Quotas won't ensure best people are elected
With the Local Elections on the cards for next year, debate has already commenced around the issue of quotas.
The topic has raised its head again, ahead of the publication of the new Local Government Bill before the end of this year.
One of the areas being examined is the possibility of implementing quotas in relation to candidates of ethnic minorities, migrants and of course women, who are usually vastly under-represented at the polls. I'm not quite sure if I agree with quotas, as I feel that if a person is up to the job, then they should get it regardless of their gender or ethnicity.
It is suggested that political parties could be forced to fill 40 per cent of their Local Election nominations with representatives from minority groups.
Better inclusion and diversity in politics is definitely to be welcomed as voters want more choice on their polling card than a group of men of a certain age in suits. Imposing quotas however, will simply serve to restrict parties in their choice of who they deem to be the best candidate.
They will be scrambling to tick the boxes, and even picking candidates of inferior experience or ability to fill the ballot sheets while the whole time, almost certain that their old favourites will take the seat anyway.
In terms of the Local Elections, regardless of your background, race or gender, it is possible to enter the race as an independent so there really is no barrier to any prospective candidate from throwing their hat into the ring. If the electorate deems them to be right for the job, then they will get elected and it doesn't matter what sort of quotas are set out for the parties.
The challenge is however, to encourage a more diverse cross section of society to take an active part in local government.
When it comes to political parties, they should always seek candidates who are representative of the community in which they will serve regardless if they are obliged to do so or not, as it simply makes sense. Why would anyone vote for a candidate from whom they are completely disconnected and believe does not understand their issues of importance?
Those who already show leadership in their local communities will always trump a candidate who is simply there to meet a quota.