Saturday 24 February 2018

Professor John Coakley: Non-elected ministers a scary but smart prospect

On June 9, the Constitutional Convention made a recommendation that attracted little attention but could have far-reaching political consequences. By sizeable majorities, it supported a proposal to allow non-parliamentarians to become ministers and to require TDs appointed ministers to resign their Dail seats.

The notion of non-elected ministers is calculated to appal many citizens and scare most politicians. But a little knowledge of comparative politics will reveal that this is not an unusual arrangement, and a little reflection will show it is likely both to improve the effectiveness of the political process and to be more democratic than the current system.

In continental Europe, the norm is that ministers are not required to be members of parliament. In a growing number of countries, the dual mandate is prohibited: ministers are not permitted to be parliamentarians in, for example, Belgium, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal and Sweden.

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