Jason OMahony - Irish political blogger, Irish politics, EU politics

An Occasional Guide to Irish Politics: The Unknown Senator.

Posted by Jason O on Jan 26, 2009 in Irish Politics, Not quite serious.

The Seanad: A deeply respected institution, especially by those in it or aspiring to be in it.It’s the title that gets him first, especially when he sees it on his passport for the first time. Senator! He can’t help but see himself in the great senatorial pantheon. Hello Senator Kennedy! Good to see you Senator McCain! That and the fact that he’s just fought the scruffiest, dirtiest, filthiest election this side of Palermo City Council, and somehow managed to scrape through on the 47th count with 1/47 of a preference electing him. For just one moment, he imagines himself going into oratorical battle on the floor of the house, in defence of The Republic.

Of course, once the elation dies down, reality comes roaring back in. Joe Public not only hasn’t a clue, but thinks he’s trying to sell him double glazing. And the party expects him to run for the Dail next time, which all looked great when they were talking nominations but now seems a bit stressful.

He thinks that after driving up and down every boreen in the country speaking to the greatest assembly of pathological liars ever assembled by Man he can now take it easy. Then he tries to have his tea in the members restaurant, and watches as the old hands practically stampede the door every time a county councillor darkens the door. Three weeks in he’s throwing his chocolate digestive over his shoulder as he runs for the restaurant door. He’s pretty sure that he’s just recognised a county councillor for Borris-in-Ossory. Either that or your man is just a fella delivering photocopying paper, but he can’t take the risk. His nerves won’t let him.


Nine Seat Constituencies?

Posted by Jason O on Jan 26, 2009 in Irish Politics

One does not vote, one casts a ballot. According to the Irish Times, an interesting proposal has come out of John Gormley’s office. Read it here.  

It would allow a return to the large Dail constituencies (Galway in the 1920s was a nine seater, for example. ) that the state had in the 1920s, before FF and FG decided to start rigging the system in their favour, in the name of  “stability”.

I have always wondered why the small parties in government accepted the mantra of having relatively disproportionate constituencies, where a party pretty much needs 12% plus of the final vote to get a seat, which is quite high by continental standards.  It means that there is a geographic obsession to our political system (Sure isn’t Mickey Joe one of our own? Wasn’t he born in a manger only out the road? So what if he can’t read like all dem fancy fellas up in Dublin?) as opposed to, well, an obsession with politics, you know, policies and ideas. 

The PDs presided over the creation of a load of three seaters about the place, on the bizarre grounds (This argument was actually made to me internally within the party.) that large seat constituencies would only “help Sinn Fein.”

Turns out Sinn Fein didn’t need help, but the PDs did. They got 56,000 first preferences, which is more voters then there are full time farmers in the country, but because those votes were dispersed throughout the country, the party got annhilated.      

The Greens should pay attention here. Actually, if FF think their own first preferences may be hugely down in the next election, they might see the benefit themselves. Gormleymander, anyone?

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