The Greens, to their credit, have realised that changing our electoral system is the cornerstone to fixing our malfunctioning political system. At the moment, as the John O’Donoghue saga has revealed, our politicians are actually too close to their constituents. You would think this is a good thing, but the problem is that most people don’t spend hours down the pub discussing future energy supply strategy or taxation planning or the details of the Lisbon treaty, and because ordinary voters don’t discuss them, our electoral system forces TDs to focuss on the things they do discuss, leaving big strategic issues unaddressed.
The Green proposal of adding a list system has merit. It will allow for “National” deputies to be elected, and will, hopefully, mean that some candidates who focus on national issues will also get elected, people who may not be great at constituency graft but have a grasp of the big picture.
It should be noted that we can attach a list system to STV, as the Australians have done in their senate (See here.), which uses a variant of STV. We would not need a referendum to do this, and it would voter choice, and yes, some candidates will still campaign as the “local” man, but it will also allow for people in Dublin to vote for good candidates in other parts of the country, and vice versa, and that is a good thing in itself. It would, for example, allow people all over the country with a concern for workers rights to vote for Joe Higgins or Jack O’Connor. Or small businessmen to vote for Michael O’Leary. It might even let Declan Ganley be elected.
Wouldn’t that be fun?