Advertisement
If you have a new account but are having problems posting or verifying your account, please email us on hello@boards.ie for help. Thanks :)
Hello all! Please ensure that you are posting a new thread or question in the appropriate forum. The Feedback forum is overwhelmed with questions that are having to be moved elsewhere. If you need help to verify your account contact hello@boards.ie

Leo Varadkar announces abortion referendum

Options
124678

Comments

  • Moderators, Entertainment Moderators, Politics Moderators Posts: 14,479 Mod ✭✭✭✭johnnyskeleton


    It's a tricky one to know how to react to really. On the one hand, one can view it as Michael Collins viewed the treaty - not the result you want, but a stepping stone towards that result. On the other hand, if the Dail legislates, you can bet that it will probably be decades before another government has the balls to touch the issue, refusing to do so on the grounds that "we've only just dealt with that, it's already been decided".

    The polls seem to suggest that the majority are in favour of reform but against total repeal. I think the polls will come up with different results each time they are run but also when the specific proposal is set.


    https://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/poll-shows-public-support-for-abortion-is-cautious-and-conditional-1.2995696?mode=amp

    So its not quite a stepping stone argument insofar as the peoples will would seem (large caveat there) to be for a midway position. It is not a scenario where most people want the 8th amendment to be repealed completely but cant achieve it for diplomatic reasons. Its that the majority seem to want to keep some form of 8th amendment.

    That might change during the course of the argument but aa you say a partial reform might mean its not addressed again for decades. Moreover, anyone who does try to change it again will be accused of wanting abortion on demand / abortion as contraception etc to be brought in which politically is a harder sell that the more black and white constitutional special protection or not for the unborn.
    So should the repeal campaigners agitate for abortion on demand up to a certain term limit and actively oppose anything less that they are offered by the government, or accept the most likely massively restricted version Leo & co will go for, on the grounds that it's a step in the right direction?

    Well they would be advocating complete repeal rather than abortion on demand per se, because even a complete repeal will not necessarily result in abortion on demand. It will depend on the government but it could lead to an argument that there is a right to abortion, where currently such an unenumerated absolute right cannot exist under the constitution.

    I think they should advocate for complete repeal until the wording of the legislation is approved by the dail, but if it is not full repeal I think they should still vote for the liberalisation/compromise position as offered.

    It might seem like a missed opportunity but if it is the will of the people then so be it. They may as well accept the reforms which will save lives in the short-medium term and foresake the chance of a full repeal. In the long term, if there is a sea change whereby the majority of the Irish people want abortion on demand and it is a pressing issue, a new referendum will follow.

    The alternative is that repeal is voted down and they are stuck with it until a further referendum becomes popular.


  • Registered Users Posts: 27,281 ✭✭✭✭blanch152


    The whole point of the Citizen's Assembly was to produce something for the politicians to hide behind.

    But it is possible that the Assembly's recommendations will be too liberal for our FG/FF government to swallow (or the next one, which will be FF/FG).

    I think the Citizen's Assembly recommendations (whether you agree with them or not) will be too liberal for the electorate to swallow. As a result, they run the risk of stopping the Repeal the 8th movement.


  • Registered Users Posts: 27,281 ✭✭✭✭blanch152


    It's certainly not going to be anywhere near liberal enough as long as Leo Varadkar wields the party whip. He's already come out publicly and said that he will not support the Citizens' Assembly recommendation, which is definitely what the majority of the young women fronting and driving the huge Repeal campaign regard as the only acceptable outcome.

    It's a tricky one to know how to react to really. On the one hand, one can view it as Michael Collins viewed the treaty - not the result you want, but a stepping stone towards that result. On the other hand, if the Dail legislates, you can bet that it will probably be decades before another government has the balls to touch the issue, refusing to do so on the grounds that "we've only just dealt with that, it's already been decided".

    So should the repeal campaigners agitate for abortion on demand up to a certain term limit and actively oppose anything less that they are offered by the government, or accept the most likely massively restricted version Leo & co will go for, on the grounds that it's a step in the right direction?

    It would take longer for a second referendum than a change in the law if the Oireachtas got it wrong.

    Like it or not, the only sensible solution, given the way the Courts deal with the current amendment, is a complete repeal, with Oireachtas then putting legislation in place.


  • Registered Users Posts: 26,197 ✭✭✭✭Peregrinus


    We already know that hundreds of Irish psychiatrists declared before the POLDP was passed that they would never under any circumstances find that an abortion was justified, law or no law.

    What is such a psychiatrist to do with a patient who presents saying that she will kill herself if she is not allowed an abortion?
    If your basic argument here is that the POLDP system is badly designed, you'll get no dispute from me.

    But, the answer to your specific query:

    Obviously the psychiatrists concerned aren’t going to certify the patient for an abortion.

    Obviously they will also consider whether she should be involuntarily detained under the Mental Health Act.

    Under that Act, the first question the psychiatrist has to ask himself is, is the patient mentally ill? (Or suffering from severe dementia or significant intellectual disability, but I think we can leave those possiblities aside in this context.) Expressing or even implementing a desire to commit suicide is not in itself a mental illness, or evidence of a mental illness (as advocates for assisted dying will all know). If she's not mentally ill, she can't be sectioned; end of enquiry.

    If she is mentally ill, are her threats of suicide caused by her mental illness? If not, she can’t be sectioned; end of enquiry

    If the answer to both these questions is “yes”, the psychiatrist may have her removed to an “approved centre” where she will be examined by a different psychiatrist, who (a) will form his own opinion as to whether she is mentally ill and (b) whether the illness is the cause of her threats of suicide, and a new question (c) whether her illness is treatable, since you can only be admitted for treatment.

    If the answer to all these questions is “yes” an admission order can be made, and it’s the admission order that’s referred to as “sectioning”.

    (All of the above relates to an adult patient. The procedure is different for a child, as outlined in earlier posts.)

    So, I think your question comes down to this: Do I expect that every psychiatrist who has indicated that he would not certify a woman for an abortion will also judge that every woman who is so distressed by her pregnancy as to contemplate suicide must, ipso facto, be mentally ill?

    No, I don’t expect that.


  • Registered Users Posts: 26,197 ✭✭✭✭Peregrinus


    blanch152 wrote: »
    It would take longer for a second referendum than a change in the law if the Oireachtas got it wrong.

    Like it or not, the only sensible solution, given the way the Courts deal with the current amendment, is a complete repeal, with Oireachtas then putting legislation in place.
    There's much to be said for this view.

    The problem is that a complete repeal, giving the Oireachtas carte blanche to put any legislation in place, might not pass. And, of course, if it didn't, that puts the kibosh on the thing for another ten years or more.


  • Advertisement
  • Registered Users Posts: 26,197 ✭✭✭✭Peregrinus


    Why would any pro-choice person vote no to a proposal to liberalise abortion law, even if they felt it didn't go far enough?:confused:
    recedite wrote: »
    Don't ask me why, but its human nature ;)
    You don't have to look any further than this very thread for examples...
    I can't believe anything more than a handful of ill-advised people would do that. If the referendum is defeated the issue will not be addressed again in any form for another ten years at the very least.
    And if the referendum is passed it won't be addressed again in any form for another ten years at the least.

    So if the proposal is to amend the constitution to allow abortion not only in cases of real and substantial threat to the mother's life (as at present) but also in cases of incest and fatal foetal abnormality, but not otherwise, that's clearly not going to satisfy anyone who takes a pro-choice position. And rather than vote for, and lock in, that anti-choice abortion position, they might choose to vote against it, and keep campaigning.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 399 ✭✭Paleblood


    Yeah and if you look from a purely economical point of view, introducing abortion will probably save the State a fortune in benefits supporting unwanted children.

    This is purely anecdotal, but in my experience some of the loudest pro-lifers are also benefit-lifers. Those people are a burden on the state because they don't want to contribute to society, not because their children are unwanted. It's easy for people like that to be pro-life because there's never a wrong time to have a baby, seeing as it's the only thing they'll ever achieve and they might get a free house if the father ****s off (or hides in his brand new attic when the inspector comes round).


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,739 ✭✭✭solodeogloria



    Good morning!

    I think we can all groan at the madness this will bring on the country with both the radical unwilling to compromise on anything pro-lifers to the radical pro-choicers who will inevitably be the ones campaigning.

    The article is pretty useless because it doesn't tell us what they are planning to replace it with. Or is it simply to remove the clause from the Constitution?

    I'm not opposed to the referendum if it is simply to allow for termination in the event of fatal foetal abnormalities. I am however opposed to the referendum if it is to allow abortion as a free for all.

    The one advantage is that if the referendum is anything other than a moderate adjustment to the 8th Amendment I'm fairly sure that it will be soundly rejected.

    Much thanks,
    solodeogloria


  • Registered Users Posts: 26,197 ✭✭✭✭Peregrinus


    Good morning!

    I think we can all groan at the madness this will bring on the country with both the radical unwilling to compromise on anything pro-lifers to the radical pro-choicers who will inevitably be the ones campaigning.

    The article is pretty useless because it doesn't tell us what they are planning to replace it with. Or is it simply to remove the clause from the Constitution?
    That's not the fault of the article or of the journalist who wrote it. Varadkar hasn't said what amendment will be put before the people in the referendum.


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Social & Fun Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 37,714 CMod ✭✭✭✭ancapailldorcha


    Paleblood wrote: »
    This is purely anecdotal, but in my experience some of the loudest pro-lifers are also benefit-lifers. Those people are a burden on the state because they don't want to contribute to society, not because their children are unwanted. It's easy for people like that to be pro-life because there's never a wrong time to have a baby, seeing as it's the only thing they'll ever achieve and they might get a free house if the father ****s off (or hides in his brand new attic when the inspector comes round).

    Mod: Please do not generalise like this here. Thanks.

    We sat again for an hour and a half discussing maps and figures and always getting back to that most damnable creation of the perverted ingenuity of man - the County of Tyrone.

    H. H. Asquith



  • Advertisement
  • Registered Users Posts: 16,106 ✭✭✭✭Loafing Oaf


    Peregrinus wrote: »
    And if the referendum is passed it won't be addressed again in any form for another ten years at the least.

    Well that's debatable, but even if it was true there would at least be some de facto liberalisation of the abortion regime. I say debatable because if the legislation allowing abortion in cases of rape turns out to be unworkable in practice, it would be possible to amend it. At least there would be movement on the issue...So when it gets down to it I believe very few pro-choice people will vote against any liberalisation of the law.


  • Registered Users Posts: 26,197 ✭✭✭✭Peregrinus


    Well, time will tell.

    My sense would be that, if the government were to propose a very slight relaxation (say, abortion as under the current regime, plus incest, plus fatal foetal abnormalities) and the electorate rejected it, most commentators would read that as "we know there's a desire for change, but not this change; something more far-reaching". And they would point to the outcome of the constitutional convention as evidence of that. And in that case it would be possible to maintain the pressure for further action.

    Whereas, if the government proposes a slight relaxation and the citizens approve it, that creates much more of a sense of "Right, done and dusted. We can move on from this, and don't have to revisit it for another generation". No government has secured approval a change to the constitutional provisions dealing with abortion itself (as opposed to information/travel) since 1983, so if they do secure approval there'll be a widespread sense of "job done!" and a widespread relief that we don't have to talk about this any more.

    In short, I think rejection at a referendum is less conclusive than approval at a referendum. No constitutional amendment approved in a referendum has ever been successfully revisited later on, whereas rejections have been revisited. And pro-choicers who are dissatisfied with a looser, but still anti-choice amendment may feel that for them it's a choice between two evils, but on balance they're going to hold out for choice.

    (Of course, it's possible that the government will propose something more radical, such as deletion of the constitutional ban, and insert of a provision for the Oireachtas to legislate. I'm pretty certain that pro-choicers would go for that, even if the legislation proposed in the first instance were very restrictive.)


  • Technology & Internet Moderators Posts: 28,792 Mod ✭✭✭✭oscarBravo


    Peregrinus wrote: »
    Of course, it's possible that the government will propose something more radical, such as deletion of the constitutional ban, and insert of a provision for the Oireachtas to legislate. I'm pretty certain that pro-choicers would go for that, even if the legislation proposed in the first instance were very restrictive.

    Absolutely. The key point for me is that legislation has no place in the Constitution. It has made a shambles of divorce in Ireland, and an even bigger shambles of pregnancy.


  • Registered Users Posts: 16,106 ✭✭✭✭Loafing Oaf


    Peregrinus wrote: »
    (Of course, it's possible that the government will propose something more radical, such as deletion of the constitutional ban, and insert of a provision for the Oireachtas to legislate. I'm pretty certain that pro-choicers would go for that, even if the legislation proposed in the first instance were very restrictive.)

    Oh right, this is what I'm assuming will happen, and my arguments are based on that.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 13,993 ✭✭✭✭recedite


    Peregrinus wrote: »
    The problem is that a complete repeal, giving the Oireachtas carte blanche to put any legislation in place, might not pass. And, of course, if it didn't, that puts the kibosh on the thing for another ten years or more.
    Peregrinus wrote: »
    And if the referendum is passed it won't be addressed again in any form for another ten years at the least.

    So if the proposal is to amend the constitution to allow abortion not only in cases of real and substantial threat to the mother's life (as at present) but also in cases of incest and fatal foetal abnormality, but not otherwise, that's clearly not going to satisfy anyone who takes a pro-choice position. And rather than vote for, and lock in, that anti-choice abortion position, they might choose to vote against it, and keep campaigning.
    Both of these scenarios represent a gamble. Different people will react differently when faced with a "winner takes all" choice, even people who share the same ultimate goal. Its human psychology. And as as mentioned earlier we had a civil war in this country, so we should know not to put ourselves in that kind of position again.

    That's why IMO some kind of preferendum is the solution, as the outcome would be guaranteed, in advance, to satisfy most of the electorate. Thus taking the strategic gamble out of it. Afterwards the outcome of the preferendum would have to somehow be translated into a constitutional amendment, but I think that could be arranged.
    .. when it gets down to it I believe very few pro-choice people will vote against any liberalisation of the law.
    It only takes a few to cause a complete reversal of the outcome. Note the result of the 25th amendment; 49.6% to 51.4%.
    Very, very close.


  • Registered Users Posts: 68,317 ✭✭✭✭seamus


    Peregrinus wrote: »
    Well, time will tell.

    My sense would be that, if the government were to propose a very slight relaxation (say, abortion as under the current regime, plus incest, plus fatal foetal abnormalities) and the electorate rejected it, most commentators would read that as "we know there's a desire for change, but not this change; something more far-reaching". And they would point to the outcome of the constitutional convention as evidence of that. And in that case it would be possible to maintain the pressure for further action.

    Whereas, if the government proposes a slight relaxation and the citizens approve it, that creates much more of a sense of "Right, done and dusted. We can move on from this, and don't have to revisit it for another generation". No government has secured approval a change to the constitutional provisions dealing with abortion itself (as opposed to information/travel) since 1983, so if they do secure approval there'll be a widespread sense of "job done!" and a widespread relief that we don't have to talk about this any more.
    That's pretty much why I say now that would vote No to any thing which amounted to a slight amendment.

    I would rather that we had the same nonsense in the constitution and had to continue arguing about this for another decade, than insert something really weak and largely unhelpful into the constitution, and have politicians wash their hands of the issue until my children are my age.

    It's worth noting that a "preferendum" isn't possible instead of a referendum under the constitution. The constitution requires that any amendment is approved by "a majority of the votes cast".

    So if you have 3 options, and none of the options gets more than 50%, then the amendment is rejected.

    A pre-referendum, preferendum may be possible, but really that's what the citizen's assembly was. A national vote to select the "best" approach would likely receive a lot of criticism and would fracture a lot of the final vote. Plus, you'd get people voting "No" just because they don't appreciate being asked to vote multiple times.


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,882 ✭✭✭Christy42


    seamus wrote: »
    That's pretty much why I say now that would vote No to any thing which amounted to a slight amendment.

    I would rather that we had the same nonsense in the constitution and had to continue arguing about this for another decade, than insert something really weak and largely unhelpful into the constitution, and have politicians wash their hands of the issue until my children are my age.

    It's worth noting that a "preferendum" isn't possible instead of a referendum under the constitution. The constitution requires that any amendment is approved by "a majority of the votes cast".

    So if you have 3 options, and none of the options gets more than 50%, then the amendment is rejected.

    A pre-referendum, preferendum may be possible, but really that's what the citizen's assembly was. A national vote to select the "best" approach would likely receive a lot of criticism and would fracture a lot of the final vote. Plus, you'd get people voting "No" just because they don't appreciate being asked to vote multiple times.

    I fear if they introduce some nonsense change then there can't be any progress for the pro choice until your children are your age. It will either be considered "settled" or evidence that the public is against even a small change.

    Any nonsense change needs to be challenged before the referendum to have any hope of a victory for the pro choice side.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 13,993 ✭✭✭✭recedite


    seamus wrote: »
    A pre-referendum, preferendum may be possible, but really that's what the citizen's assembly was.
    That's one approach, another would be to pre-amend the Constitution to allow the result of any future preferendum to count directly as an amendment. I'm sure with some creative thinking, there are various ways of doing it.

    BTW I would not agree that the Citizens Assembly was similar to a preferendum. Do we know what selection criteria was used exactly to pick the delegates, or what list the names were taken from? We were told they were a "random sample". it seems more like a vox pop or a straw poll to me, and those are notoriously inaccurate because depending on where you get your "random sample" from, the outcome can vary a lot. Then you can have a situation as happens with jury duty, where a certain segment of the population excuses themselves from it, typically because they are too busy. Yet these same busy people tend to be conscientious voters, and are often of the more conservative type.


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,044 ✭✭✭volchitsa


    Christy42 wrote: »
    I fear if they introduce some nonsense change then there can't be any progress for the pro choice until your children are your age. It will either be considered "settled" or evidence that the public is against even a small change.

    Any nonsense change needs to be challenged before the referendum to have any hope of a victory for the pro choice side.

    Yes, this is what's concerning me, going by how POLPD seems to be turning out - that the proposed changes, even if not ostensibly "nonsense" when proposed, will eventually be hollowed out at the various stages, so that whatever law we end up with is no better, and possibly even worse, than what we now have.


  • Registered Users Posts: 16,106 ✭✭✭✭Loafing Oaf


    seamus wrote: »
    That's pretty much why I say now that would vote No to any thing which amounted to a slight amendment.

    I would rather that we had the same nonsense in the constitution and had to continue arguing about this for another decade, than insert something really weak and largely unhelpful into the constitution, and have politicians wash their hands of the issue until my children are my age.

    On what basis do you assume that 'further' liberalisation would happen sooner if the referendum was voted down? If a 'limited abortion' referendum is defeated, is not likely that both FF and FG at least would decide, right, no point touching this issue again for 20 years or whatever.


  • Advertisement
  • Registered Users Posts: 7,044 ✭✭✭volchitsa


    On what basis do you assume that 'further' liberalisation would happen sooner if the referendum was voted down? If a 'limited abortion' referendum is defeated, is not likely that both FF and FG at least would decide, right, no point touching this issue again for 20 years or whatever.

    It's absolutely self evident to me that whatever the result, the fact of the referendum on abortion being held will make it extremely unlikely that there will be another one for a generation at least.

    My point is that the proposed wording will have to be very verycarefully examined before it goes on the ballot paper at all, and the very worst possible interpretation will have to be assumed to be the correct one. Before the 8th, allegations that women could be stopped from travelling were dismissed as nonsense by Binchy and others, and before POLDP the idea that a woman could end up sectioned as a result of asking for an abortion on grounds of suicidality was similarly dismissed. Both subsequently went on to take place.


  • Registered Users Posts: 16,686 ✭✭✭✭Zubeneschamali


    volchitsa wrote: »
    It's absolutely self evident to me that whatever the result, the fact of the referendum on abortion being held will make it extremely unlikely that there will be another one for a generation at least.

    Some other re-runs:

    Divorce: 10 years, from 86 to 96.

    Suicide/abortion: 10 years, 92 to 02 (failed both times and now clearly not coming back).

    Nice Treaty: 1 year.

    Lisbon Treaty: 1 year.

    All in all, I think a generation is pessimistic, especially if it fails.

    And we all know that within a year of a new law (say it is rape, incest and FFA) there will be a horrible corner case in all the papers, more shock that this can happen in Ireland etc. etc., and new pressure for a less restrictive regime.


  • Registered Users Posts: 68,317 ✭✭✭✭seamus


    On what basis do you assume that 'further' liberalisation would happen sooner if the referendum was voted down? If a 'limited abortion' referendum is defeated, is not likely that both FF and FG at least would decide, right, no point touching this issue again for 20 years or whatever.
    A few bases. For a start, a "successful" amendment would take the wind out of the sails of any campaign - the question has been asked and approved, even if it was a compromise. Any politicians giving campaigns their backing would drop away to move onto the next big thing.

    Any campaign who appears a few months after winning the referendum demanding "more", will be seen as malcontents by politicians and the population and will be banished to the fringes of society for 10-15 years.

    If campaigns rally behind a "No" and say "this isn't good enough", the momentum will remain and their calls for a better referendum have more legitimacy.

    Additionally, governments hate to lose referenda. They're used as point scorers. A government who wins a referendum is a good one. A government who loses is a bad one. If a FG government were to lose a referendum because they asked the wrong question, a FF government would be more than happy to use that as a stick to beat FG with, and even though they wouldn't immediately call a new referendum, it would remain somewhere on their agenda; to prove just how out of touch FG are and how much a "party of the people" FF are.


  • Registered Users Posts: 16,106 ✭✭✭✭Loafing Oaf


    volchitsa wrote: »
    It's absolutely self evident to me that whatever the result, the fact of the referendum on abortion being held will make it extremely unlikely that there will be another one for a generation at least.

    A generation, like 30 years or so? No way. I'm confident there will be a clear pro-choice majority in Ireland in 15 years at the very most. Once that becomes evident from opinion polls, a referendum or legislation or whatever is required to give it effect will be passed without fuss, even by a FF-led government.


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,044 ✭✭✭volchitsa


    A generation, like 30 years or so? No way. I'm confident there will be a clear pro-choice majority in Ireland in 15 years at the very most. Once that becomes evident from opinion polls, a referendum or legislation or whatever is required to give it effect will be passed without fuss, even by a FF-led government.

    I really hope you're right.


  • Registered Users Posts: 26,197 ✭✭✭✭Peregrinus


    Some other re-runs:

    Divorce: 10 years, from 86 to 96.

    Suicide/abortion: 10 years, 92 to 02 (failed both times and now clearly not coming back).

    Nice Treaty: 1 year.

    Lisbon Treaty: 1 year.

    All in all, I think a generation is pessimistic, especially if it fails.

    And we all know that within a year of a new law (say it is rape, incest and FFA) there will be a horrible corner case in all the papers, more shock that this can happen in Ireland etc. etc., and new pressure for a less restrictive regime.
    There's one more to add to that list: In 1959 the Fianna Fail government held a referendum to replace the single transferable vote electoral system with a first-past-the-post system (as used in the UK). The proposal was rejected. They held a second referendum on the subject in 1968; it was rejected again.

    There's a clear distinction between re-visiting an issue when a referendum on the subject has been rejected, which as your list shows is relatively common, and revisiting it when a referendum has been accepted, which seems to be pretty well unheard of. And I think that will encourage those who find Varadkar's proposed wording to not go far enough to think about voting "no". History suggests that rejecting the proposal will keep the question alive, and able to be revisited, in a way that accepting it will not.


  • Registered Users Posts: 26,197 ✭✭✭✭Peregrinus


    recedite wrote: »
    That's one approach, another would be to pre-amend the Constitution to allow the result of any future preferendum to count directly as an amendment. I'm sure with some creative thinking, there are various ways of doing it.
    This is a more radical change than you may realise. The current amending provision says that an amendment has to be first of all passed by the Oireachtas as a Bill, and only then put to the people for approval. So there's a double-lock there; an amendment will only happen if both the parliament and the electorate think it should.

    For your "preferendum", the Oireachtas would either have to (a) be dropped entirely from the mechanism, or (b) pass a series of inconsistent amendments ("We want them all!"). Either way, the Oireachtas is largely or entirely taken out of the process; an approval can be made even if the Oireachtas doesn't think it's the one that should be made, or hasn't formed or expressed any view on which amendment should be made.

    I think there's merit in the double-lock; the Oireachtas does have a responsibility here, and they shouldn't be allowed to abdicate it. Indeed, the particular amendment I would favour would largely leave legislating on abortion up to the Oireachtas, but if I trust the Oireachtas on that why would I want to freeze them out of the process of whether the Constitution should be amended?

    It seems to me that identifying the optimal amendment is an exercise that should be gone through before the referendum. It's a bad idea for any government to ask the electorate to approve anything which the government itself does not approve or is not committed to. (Just ask David Cameron!). The government should choose an amendment which (a) it wants to operate, and (b) it thinks the people will approve, and it should put that to the people. Choosing what amendment that should be may well involve conducting research or consultation to find out which of several options attracts the most support (or the most objections) and making use of that information in deciding exactly what to put to the people, but that kind of policy formation is basically a government's core job. The Oireachtas, and the government, should be involved in this decision so that they, as well as the people, will be committed to the outcome. They're the ones who are going to have to implement it, after all.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,739 ✭✭✭solodeogloria


    Peregrinus wrote: »
    There's a clear distinction between re-visiting an issue when a referendum on the subject has been rejected, which as your list shows is relatively common, and revisiting it when a referendum has been accepted, which seems to be pretty well unheard of. And I think that will encourage those who find Varadkar's proposed wording to not go far enough to think about voting "no". History suggests that rejecting the proposal will keep the question alive, and able to be revisited, in a way that accepting it will not.

    Good morning,

    Yes, it will but I'm having difficulty understanding how a 'no' vote indicates a pro-choice outcome to the referendum. Surely a no vote could also be from hard core pro-lifers who object to further liberalisation of termination law in Ireland?

    In short - what makes people think a no vote actually agitates for pro-choice change?

    Much thanks,
    solodeogloria


  • Registered Users Posts: 26,197 ✭✭✭✭Peregrinus


    Good morning,

    Yes, it will but I'm having difficulty understanding how a 'no' vote indicates a pro-choice outcome to the referendum. Surely a no vote could also be from hard core pro-lifers who object to further liberalisation of termination law in Ireland?

    In short - what makes people think a no vote actually agitates for pro-choice change?
    That's something they'll have to make a judgment about. The problem with a 'no' vote - and this applies to all issues, not just to abortion - is that it gives you limited information. You know what people don't want or won't accept, but you don't know what they do want or will accept. (They're currently finding this out the hard way in the UK.)

    So, in this context, if the government proposes a certain wording and the people vote "no", viewed in isolation that could mean either "we like the wording just the way it is, thanks" or "we want a change, but not this change". And, realistically, for some 'no' voters it will mean the former and for some it will mean the latter.

    Fortunately, there's a lot of other information out there about what people want or don't want. You've got public debate, you've got discussion in the newspapers, you've got discussion in the Oireachtas, you've got opinion polls, and changes in opinion polls over time, you've got what TDs report they are hearing in the constituency, you've got the discussions and decisions in the Constitutional Convention. You've got the issues that came up in the campaign, and the public response they received. Hey, you've even got what's said on Boards.ie. None of it, obviously, has the clarity or authority of a referendum result, but all of it can be useful when it comes to interpreting the referendum result. So the government will use all these sources of information, and more besides, to try to make an assessment if the whether the "no" vote mostly represents people who want no change, or mostly represents people who want a different/more radical change, or is more or less evenly split between the two views.

    Equally, they'll be asking themselves to what extent the minority "yes" vote represents people who think the amendment offered to them is the optimal one, and to what extent it represents people who want something more, but decided at least to take what they could get. (The latter group, obviously, might also vote "yes" to a different/more radical amendment, if put to them.)

    Reading the public mood this way is more an art than a science, but it's an art that politicians - the successful ones, anyway - get pretty skilled at. Essentially, they'll be asking themselves "would a differently-worded amendment secure a 50% 'yes' vote?" If they think the answer is 'yes', they might (after a while!) bring forward a second referendum seeking approval for a differently worded amendment. If they think the answer is 'no', they won't. Whichever they think, they could be wrong but, hey, that's politics.


  • Advertisement
  • Closed Accounts Posts: 13,993 ✭✭✭✭recedite


    Peregrinus wrote: »
    This is a more radical change than you may realise....

    For your "preferendum", the Oireachtas would either have to (a) be dropped entirely from the mechanism, or (b) pass a series of inconsistent amendments ("We want them all!").
    OK, well now that you focus the microscope over it :) the idea of making the preferendum result count directly as in (a) above is unrealistic because if you take the Oireactas out of it, who is going to propose and organise the preferendum/referendum? I can't see the county councils doing it.
    and (b) above is also a non-runner.

    But that still leaves us with the other option of "the pre-referendum preferendum". This would be a kind of plebiscite, with a gereral acceptance that the results would be translated into the wording of the actual Dail bill and referendum, which would proceed immediately afterwards.

    So it would have a similar legal effect to the Brexit referendum in the UK; ie not legally binding, but generally agreed that the result would be respected.
    But different to Brexit referendum in that the result of the preferendum would also provide a clearly defined road map on what exactly the people had agreed upon, and how to proceed with it.


Advertisement