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

Labour should push for an 11 seater in next year’s European Elections.

Posted by Jason O on Mar 22, 2013 in European Union, Irish Politics |

Next year’s European Parliament Elections do not, from an Irish perspective, actually matter. Now, before the EP office get upset, all I’m saying is that Irish MEPs don’t really matter that much. Name two Irish MEPs since 1979 who led the parliament and/or one of the three main parties. “Well, there’s Pat Cox, then there’s, eh, um, eh…”

Domestically, it does not really matter much either, save for the image it gives. If Labour fails to get a single MEP elected, a prospect which is not impossible, it’ll solidify the public image that Labour is the most despised party in the country at the moment, in terms of numbers of people actively disliking it.

Now, Labour, like the PDs and Greens before them, have this fundamental misunderstanding about our Single Transferable Vote system. They think it is always proportional. It isn’t. If your party becomes transfer repellent, as FF were in 2011 and the PDs were after 1987, you get less seats than you are entitled to, and when you’re at 9% in the polls that has the potential to wipe you out.

A solution? Labour should demand FG do two things. The first is redraw the European boundaries, which have to lose a single seat anyway, into a single 11 seat constituency. Running two or three candidates should give Labour a chance of holding at least one and maybe scraping a second. Secondly, they should introduce an Australian style Above The Line voting option on the ballot, where voters, IF THEY CHOOSE, can just tick a party box, and the parties transfers are allocated according to a pre-published order (perhaps at county or province level), ensuring that FG and Labour transfer solidly to each other.

A radical solution? Yes, but if I were one of the walking dead Labour TDs zombie-ing around Leinster House at the moment, I’d start thinking outside the box, because if this works, they could try it for the general election. 

 

4 Comments

Ed
Mar 22, 2013 at 11:29 am

Fair point Jason, and not as radical as you say – the majority of EU states have either national constituencies for the Euros (eg Netherlands), or very very large regional ones with a lot of MEPs (almost all more than Ireland’s 11 total) (eg France, UK). We’re a bit odd in doing it the current way and I think it would be good to further break the connection between localism and MEPs.


 
Ronan Gingles
Mar 22, 2013 at 11:43 am

Given the unsquarable circle of how to divide the 11 MEPs next time, a single national constituency makes a lot of sense. Only UK, Poland, Italy and France join ourselves in not using this approach and none of them are as hell-bent on general centralisation as Ireland’s powers-that-be. The funny thing is that if we were to revert to the 1979-2004 provincial constituencies (i.e. repatriating Clare and Westmeath & Longford), the populations would be almost perfect for a proportional 3-3-3-2 divide but this is not (currently) legally acceptable for Connacht-Ulster. Mind you, that’s not a part of the country where Labour would be too worried about contesting if they could fight their corner in the other 3. As for a radical shake-up towards group voting (in a sense, another form of centralisation) it’s an interesting thought but stands no chance of happening any time soon.


 
Pidge
Mar 22, 2013 at 12:41 pm

Indeed. There’s precedent for it too, in that over 20 of the member states do it. Denmark’s MEPs, for example, are elected to a constituency called “Denmark”. Hint: it’s Denmark.


 
Peggy
Mar 23, 2013 at 8:30 am

Here’s a variant that would be fascinating: an all-island 14-seater. It’s a European election right, not a State election?


 

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