Who would have thought that there would come a time when Irish politicians felt there were actual votes to be had in talking about electoral reform? Reading Fianna Fail’s very radical proposals on political reform (by far the most radical of the three main parties) you can’t help thinking “Gosh! If only Fianna Fail had been in power sometime over the last twenty years!”.
But does it amount to a hill of beans? Do Fianna Fail even believe it, or are they being radical because they don’t believe they will be called on to implement the changes they propose? Put it another way. If Fianna Fail had a serious chance of getting into power, would they be advocating this? Call me a cynic, but I have my doubts, and they are reasonable. Fianna Fail has to do more to convince me of their radical conversion than I do of their opposition to political reform whilst in power.
Fine Gael and Labour, much closer to potential power, have been backtracking on real political reform as they get closer to Merrion Square. Fine Gael’s proposals on abolishing the Seanad and reducing the Dail by 20 seats are the TG4 of political reform: Showy but with little to prove that they will help achieve the actual outcomes we claim to want as a people. On real stuff, like electoral reform, Fine Gael and Labour have already kicked the issue for touch with talk of (yet another) committee.
In short, what would Paddy Power give me on election 2016 being contested under the same voting system we use today?
The litmus test of political reform is this: Will a measure give voters more choice, and/or more power over politicians? Electoral reform of a certain kind might, and other measures such as California style referendums would. But this stuff? Not a chance.
Revolution’s already over folks. They won.
Additional: The good people at Paddy Power have asked me to remind you of their services with regard to Election 2016 here, which I’m glad to do.