I’ve only managed a very cursory read of the programme for government, because of deadlines, and I do intend to post something more substantial about it later this week, but my initial feelings are mixed. There is some good stuff in it on political reform, but there seems an awful lot of “reviews” and open-ended stuff that makes me think that if the coalition think that they can get away with avoiding any serious action on it, they will.
Andrea, my partner-in-crime over at www.election2011.ie thinks it is a good document, but then she holds politicians in much higher regard than I do. I don’t think they’re inherently evil, I just think that they regularly need to be shown the whip to keep them in line. Political reform is, I suspect, going to be one of those areas where the crop will need to be kept close to hand.
On the positive side, you have to be impressed with the clockwork mechanism we have now developed for assembling governments after elections. I remember watching, wth other pol hacks, the sheer terror on the faces of British political journalists last May when they realised no one had won an overall majority. It was really very funny as they talked about the pound collapsing, etc, and I remember thinking: “Either British politicians seriously overestimate their own importance, or Britain as a country is far more unstable than Ireland. Or Belgium, for that matter. Or Italy, even.”
Of course, it all turned out to be balls. But then, Britain wouldn’t be the first country to have politicians who overestimate their indispensability.
Additional note: I don’t hold out much hope for serious political reform when I hear RTE describe replacing Garda ministerial drivers with civilians as “political reform”.