Dec 5, 2022Liked by Ronan McGovern, Fitzwilliam Staff

Interesting point regarding nuclear power. Who is going to sort the electrons into nuclear and non-nuclear from the French interconnector, and apportion them accordingly? Or indeed the interconnector with the UK and Ireland?

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Dec 6, 2022Liked by Ronan McGovern

Really enjoyed this review, thanks for doing this work! It does make me feel like Ireland did a pretty solid job which, as an Irish person living in the US, makes me feel good. The checks and balances of the US constitution are held up as a strength, but I prefer the clarity about who's in charge and the lack of veto points in the Irish constitution as it fulfills a key goal of a democracy, namely making sure that everyone's clear whose fault something is so they can vote them out if it doesn't work.

One thing you didn't get into in detail is the choice of multi-member constituency STV versus (say) the German list system. At the high level there's a PR versus FPTP argument and I think there are good arguments for both, but PR seems to meet the fundamental goal of the parliament representing the people better. Given PR, the choice of PR system also matters. I think an underrated argument for multi-member constituencies is that it means that the constitution doesn’t need to recognize the existence of political parties and that means, at a technical level, you don’t need to worry about parties joining or splitting just to game the electoral system, and at a higher design level, the constitution can accommodate any future version of what political parties are because there are no assumptions about them embedded in the system. The flipside of that is that the Irish system ends up having a huge number of independent TDs and that makes forming a stable government hard.

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Dec 7, 2022Liked by Ronan McGovern

I would argue that the tendency for the protest vote to go towards Independent TDs is actually a strength of the system, and goes a long way to explain the lack of any successful right-populist party in Ireland.

In other countries, politicians like Mattie McGrath or the Healy-Rae's would probably have had to coalesce into a party, but in our multi-seater PR system it makes more sense of them to stay independent and focus on local issues, so they're not held responsible for each other or for actual government performance.

While having so many Independents does make forming a majority difficult, having similar TDs in a c.10 seat populist party wouldn't make negotiations much easier.

Overall, I think it's good that there's a viable option for a protest vote, one that does give a voice in parliament, but that at the same time doesn't overly steer our politics, as per the problem of "third/fourth parties being king/queen makers" that Ronan mentions in his comment.

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Cheers, thanks William! Appreciate that.

Yeah, I think probably good arguments for both PR and FPTP. David Deutsch seems to strongly prefer FPTP as he believes it avoids the third/fourth parties being king/queen makers + FPTP favours a government change-out over a reconfiguration of partners.

I hadn't heard of that argument for multi-member constituencies. Thanks for sharing.

Good point on independents making it harder to form a government. I suppose that goes back to the benefits of FPTP.

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