An op-ed in the Irish Times decries the “inefficiency” of Irish politics. About the Irish political system, Gemma Hussey asks:
Is it fit for purpose? Is our electoral system, which frames that political establishment, suitable for Ireland of the 21st century? [...]
We have in Ireland an electoral system, multi-seat proportional representation, which almost ensures that a broad range of the best brains and achievers in the country will never see the inside of Leinster House, much less the Cabinet room. At the same time, we have too many Dáil members.
The electoral system imposes a lifestyle on politicians which is directly inimical to good government and is a considerable deterrent to potential participants.
The skills required to massage a constituency seven days and nights a week have nothing to do with running a small European country with an open economy.
Ministers have to spend 20 to 30 hours a week attending local functions, holding clinics, going to funerals – they’ll lose their seats if they don’t.
The solution? A party-list system and a smaller, unicameral parliament.
Actually, Ireland’s 166-member first chamber, the Dáil, just about nails the “right” size under the cube-root law, given a population of around 4.1 million. I’ll leave it to others to discuss the merits of STV vs. list forms of proportional representation for the 21st century.