Saturday 16 December 2017

A vote for change

IF there is a single subject on which there is universal agreement in politics it is that our electoral system is in dire need of reform. The problem is that there is just as much disagreement on how to proceed. Yesterday, an Oireachtas committee came up with a few enlightening proposals that may help to bridge the gap.

One novel and overdue proposal put forward by the Committee on the Constitution was that the voting age might be reduced from 18 to 17. An equally valuable suggestion, especially in the context of the disgraceful delay in calling three long-overdue by-elections, was that a six-month time limit be put on filling such seats. The report has also suggested a minimum constituency size of four seats, unless this would make the constituency too large geographically.

Welcome also was the notion of a Citizens' Assembly to review the working of the current system of proportional representation using a single transferable vote and to recommend changes if required. Such an assembly would allow for reform driven from the bottom.

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