Tuesday 25 July 2017

'Flawed' FG system of voting faces change after Leo's blitz

Leo Varadkar and former Fine Gael minister Lucinda Creighton, pictured in 2011, proposed the current weighted system of voting – but the percentage assigned to each section of the electorate was decided by the party’s executive council. Picture: Gerry Mooney
Leo Varadkar and former Fine Gael minister Lucinda Creighton, pictured in 2011, proposed the current weighted system of voting – but the percentage assigned to each section of the electorate was decided by the party’s executive council. Picture: Gerry Mooney
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Fine Gael's system for electing a new leader is likely to be overhauled after Leo Varadkar's massive lead in the race to succeed Enda Kenny exposed the limited influence given to the membership.

The party has boasted that for the first time councillors and members will have a say in the election of a new leader.

However, even before presenting a single policy Mr Varadkar has secured 40pc of the vote by winning declarations from 45 TDs, senators and MEPs.

Mr Varadkar and former Fine Gael minister Lucinda Creighton proposed the current weighed system of voting in 2014 - but the percentage assigned to each section of the electorate was decided by the party's executive council.

The 73 parliamentary party members account for 65pc of the vote, followed by the 21,000 members, who make up 25pc, and the 232 councillors, who are allocated 10pc.

The Social Protection Minister said a change that would give a higher percentage of the vote to members and councillors "should be considered".

"Membership involvement and a more democratic Fine Gael only starts with this election; it's going to be something that will be a hallmark of my leadership if I have the opportunity to be leader," he said.

Read More: Varadkar's copping out on where he stands isn't worthy of a leader of the country

His rival Simon Coveney went further, saying the current practice is "potentially flawed".

He suggested that candidates should have to outline their policies on the opening day of the campaign before any endorsements are made.

"Certainly if we looked at it again, if we had the first husting on day one where members were very much involved in the discussion before any declarations were made, I think that would have been a much healthier situation. I think the process that we need to put in place around leadership contests needs to take that into account, I am not sure if this does that very well," he said.

Momentum

Mr Coveney said that TDs and senators could see momentum moving towards one candidate in the opening stages of the contest and row in behind that person in order to secure their own standing in the party.

"I think that is potentially a flaw in this new system that we are operating in. I think there is a lot of annoyance among Fine Gael membership and amongst councillors that some people in the party seem to be suggesting that because the Oireachtas members have made their declarations that this thing should just move on," he said.

Read More: Coveney fears that supporters will lose jobs as 'dirty tricks' see contest turn ugly

The minister added that politics was "a pretty raw business".

"What's happened in the last three days obviously has been disappointing from my perspective in the context of what my Oireachtas colleagues have said and the declarations they have made.

"But it's not surprising, I've been through a number of leadership contests in Fine Gael, most of them happen behind closed doors and they are pretty tough going and friends threaten their friendships and relationships with a lot of colleagues."

Fine Gael parliamentary party endorsements for leader

The Fine Gael parliamentary party makes up 65pc of the total electorate.

That makes each of the 73 members' votes worth 0.9pc of the total ballot.

Of the remaining electorate, 230 party councillors account for 10pc, while the remaining 25pc is rank and file members.

Leo Varadkar
Simon Coveney

Total: 45

Total: 19

Ministers: 17

Ministers: 5

TDs: 16

TDs: 5

Senators: 11

Senators: 8

MEPs: 1

MEPs: 1

Richard Bruton -MinisterSimon Harris - Minister
Frances Fitzgerald - MinisterDamien English - Minister
Michael Ring - MinisterDara Murphy - Minister
Eoghan Murphy - MinisterDavid Stanton - Minister
Sean Kyne - MinisterMarcella Corcoran Kennedy - Minister
Joe McHugh - MinisterKate O'Connell - TD
Helen McEntee - MinisterMaria Bailey - TD
Charlie Flanagan - MinisterSean Barrett TD
Paul Kehoe -MinisterHildegard Naughton - TD
Patrick O'Donovan - MinisterPeter Fitzpatrick - TD
Regina Doherty - MinisterTim Lombard - Senator
Mary Mitchell O'Connor - MinisterJerry Buttimer - Senator
Paschal Donohoe - MinisterPaudie Coffey - Senator
Heather Humphreys - MinisterJames Reilly - Senator
Pat Breen - MinisterColm Burke - Senator
Catherine Byrne - MinisterJohn O'Mahony - Senator
Andrew Doyle - MinisterPaul Coghlan - Senator
John Paul Phelan - TDGabrielle McFadden - Senator
Noel Rock - TDDeirdre Clune - MEP
Tony McLoughlin - TD 
Alan Farrell - TD 
Michael D'Arcy - TD 
Tom Neville - TD 
Josepha Madigan - TD 
Pat Deering - TD 
Jim Daly - TD 
Brendan Griffin - TD 
Ciaran Cannon - TD 
Colm Brophy - TD 
Peter Burke - TD 
Fergus O'Dowd - TD 
John Deasy - TD 
Joe Carey - TD 
Neale Richmond - Senator 
Catherine Noone - Senator 
Paddy Burke - Senator 
Martin Conway - Senator 
Michelle Mulherin - Senator 
Maura Hopkins - Senator 
Ray Butler - Senator 
Frank Feighan - Senator 
Maria Byrne - Senator 
Joe O'Reilly - Senator 
Kieran O'Donnell - Senator 
Brian Hayes - MEP 
Undeclared
Enda Kenny - Outgoing Party Leader *Martin Heydon - Party Chairman *
Michael Noonan - MinisterMichael Creed - Minister
Bernard Durkan - TDSean Kelly - MEP
Mairead McGuinness MEP  

* Outgoing leader Enda Kenny and party chairman Martin Heydon will not make an endorsement

Irish Independent

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