Saturday 24 June 2017

Want better government? Start with the incentives shaping voters

Pupils at St Mochtas National School, Clonsilla, protest outside Leinster House, Dublin, over the delay in construction of a new school building. Photo: Collins Photo Agency
Pupils at St Mochtas National School, Clonsilla, protest outside Leinster House, Dublin, over the delay in construction of a new school building. Photo: Collins Photo Agency

Ciarán Conlon

Incentives matter, in politics, business or even in our personal lives. They shape our thinking, consciously or unconsciously, and drive our decision-making. In politics and business, the patterns of behaviour are more alike than many might realise.

Price and profit incentivise consumers and entrepreneurs respectively. Candidates, their policies and being in government play the same role for voters and political parties.

In business, it is pretty obvious that if you reduce price and - broadly - increase demand, you grow market share and see your profits increase. The relationships are similar, but not quite as straightforward, in politics. And, when it comes to incentives in Irish politics, they really are skewed if stable government, coherent policies and long-term planning are the desired outcome.

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