Recent talk of a referendum on abolishing the Senate raises an interesting flaw in our system of referendums. Supposing we have a vote on polling day: The choice will more than likely be between abolition or retention of the current crap model, or at least, that is how it will be preceived.
Yet supposing we had more than a Yes/No option on the ballot. Supposing people could vote, as we do in byelections and presidential elections, on more than just two choices. Supposing, say, 25% of TDs could submit an alternative option on the ballot, in this case a reformed senate, so that the public could have at most four options, from the status quo to abolition to two possible reform models. Now, it’s true, you can argue that there should be more choices, and if you put too many on the ballot paper the public becomes confused (I’m voting for D’hondt. You? Oh, I’m voting for the Seanad to be elected by monkeys throwing feces at pictures of the candidates) but by giving a minority group in the Dail a say in at least putting their option on the ballot, it would be fairer and more interesting. After all, it would force smaller parties like Sinn Fein and Labour to actually put their option on the ballot, rather than just bitch.