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Constitution needs updating around aftermath of elections

  • 05-03-2020 3:33am
    #1
    Closed Accounts Posts: 136 ✭✭


    It seems to me that there is nothing to stop a previous government going a whole 5 year term in these hung dail situations. We currently have an number of ministers who have lost their seats, even though the constitution says a minister must be a TD (or 2 can come from the seanad). Surely at a minimum portfolios of ministers who have lost their seats should be reassigned to ministers with seats.


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Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 26,014 ✭✭✭✭Peregrinus


    Under the constitution, every member of the government has the right to attend and be heard in each house of the Oireachtas. This remains so even if a Minister has lost his seat, so Ministers in this situation can still be held accountable.

    One problem with requiring reassignment of portfolios is that it would put a powerful patronage tool in the hands of a Taoiseach who has, in fact, failed to secure the confidence of the Dail. While it's necessary that he continue to carry out his duties until a successor is appointed, the less he has to do the better.

    A second problem is that it would tend to frustrate the purpose of the "continue temporarily to carry out duties" provision, which is to ensure continuity and minimise disruption. A new minister has to master his brief, review his predecessors policy positions, etc. This is not an ideal time for that - especially as it's highly likely that the new minister would himself be replaced in a matter of weeks, and the whole process would be repeated.

    Honestly, I'm not sure why a Minister not being a member of either house during this interim period should be a huge problem.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,164 ✭✭✭efanton


    Peregrinus wrote: »
    Under the constitution, every member of the government has the right to attend and be heard in each house of the Oireachtas. This remains so even if a Minister has lost his seat, so Ministers in this situation can still be held accountable.

    One problem with requiring reassignment of portfolios is that it would put a powerful patronage tool in the hands of a Taoiseach who has, in fact, failed to secure the confidence of the Dail. While it's necessary that he continue to carry out his duties until a successor is appointed, the less he has to do the better.

    A second problem is that it would tend to frustrate the purpose of the "continue temporarily to carry out duties" provision, which is to ensure continuity and minimise disruption. A new minister has to master his brief, review his predecessors policy positions, etc. This is not an ideal time for that - especially as it's highly likely that the new minister would himself be replaced in a matter of weeks, and the whole process would be repeated.

    Honestly, I'm not sure why a Minister not being a member of either house during this interim period should be a huge problem.

    I would agree with what Peregrinus has written. There no point replacing a minister in this situation. Even if he/she was not great at their job it would take weeks and maybe a couple of months for a new minister to get a handle of the tasks in front of them, so they are more or less ineffective for that period of time, still making it better to keep the existing minister in place.

    It does pose the question though whether the constitution should changed so that there is only a set time for government formation before a new election is automatically called.
    Forming a government, especially a coalition of more that two party's, does take time but you would have to question the reluctance there seems to be in some party's in forming a government. FG want to be in opposition but yet are still talking dragging the whole process out by agreeing to talk with FF. FF seem to want to eliminate SF as a potential coalition partner but have let the door open ever so slightly again dragging the process out. Labour ruled themselves out, but now they will get a new party leader appear to have jumped back in the ring.

    There is far too many games being played, for my liking. A fixed period of say eight weeks would sharpen minds and cut out a lot of the posturing forcing party leaders to get down to the serious business within a week or two rather than still be posturing. The threat of a compulsory re-election would do wonders in my opinion to actually force the pace, or if the differences in policies are so great come to the conclusion much quicker that a new election should be called.

    With the serious threat the corona virus currently poses, it is ridiculous that political parties are allowed to drag out government formation to the extent they currently are. Imagine if a second threat appeared, such a finical crisis in the USA, the country could be totally screwed as all we have is a caretaker government and not a government that is capable of introducing new legislation.


  • Registered Users Posts: 26,014 ✭✭✭✭Peregrinus


    Seems to me that the main change that a fixed time limit for new elections would bring is to strengthen the bargaining hand of parties that are expected to do well in a new election, and weaken the hand of those not expected to. But this may result in a party getting to form or lead a government on the basis of an expectation that it would win in an election, rather than on the basis of actually winning in an actual election; from a democratic point of view, is that a desirable outcome?

    Also worth pointing out that there is no guarantee that a new election would actually break any stalemate; Israel has just had its third election in a row, and the stalemate there persists.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,164 ✭✭✭efanton


    Peregrinus wrote: »
    Seems to me that the main change that a fixed time limit for new elections would bring is to strengthen the bargaining hand of parties that are expected to do well in a new election, and weaken the hand of those not expected to. But this may result in a party getting to form or lead a government on the basis of an expectation that it would win in an election, rather than on the basis of actually winning in an actual election; from a democratic point of view, is that a desirable outcome?

    Also worth pointing out that there is no guarantee that a new election would actually break any stalemate; Israel has just had its third election in a row, and the stalemate there persists.

    True. but its also ridiculous that FF/FG having refused to even consider SF as a partner. are dancing round in circles as if there can be another government possible now other than a FF/FG/other government.

    Had FF not slammed the door in SF's face a FF/SF coalition might have been possible.

    The point here is parties were well aware of the few options available to form a government withing the first week, yet they dance around and expect the electorate to belief that they are working as hard as they can to form a government. They are elected representatives its their job to accept the will of the people not the other way round. If FF and SF are the biggest parties with enough commonality to potentially form a government FF had no right to slam doors. It was the peoples right to decide if SF were suitable for government not FG or FF. The same goes for any other party.

    With regards that you might not still form a government if there was another election, i think the Irish electorate are savvy enough to adjust their voting to so that the government could be formed, and vent their anger and refuse to vote for parties with the biggest mandates who refuse to form coalitions if it came to a third election. Political parties are well aware of that, and if they get punished for forcing yet more elections that punishment is totally justified.

    TD's are elected by the people to do a job, it's their job to now get on with it.
    An employee doesn't tell an employer what work conditions or who they will not work with after accepting a job. If theses TD's don't want the job then they should never have stood.

    If their manifesto or previous record wasn't sufficient to garner a majority vote then they only have themselves to blame and that goes for all parties including SF. THey must accept what they offered was not acceptable to the majority of the people and be prepared to comprise so a government can be formed. If there was another election and SF/FF had an outright majority then SF have to accept they will be working with FF, and FF will have to accept they will be working with SF and both will have to find common ground. Instead of slinging mud that energy would be better used finding a way to work together.

    Its the new reality that from now on this country's elections will not result in one party having a majority. I dont think that has sunk in with the political parties yet, so
    I still think a time limited period for forming government would be a good idea.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,561 ✭✭✭Umaro


    efanton wrote: »
    TTrue. but its also ridiculous that FF/FG having refused to even consider SF as a partner. are dancing round in circles as if there can be another government possible now other than a FF/FG/other government.

    Had FF not slammed the door in SF's face a FF/SF coalition might have been possible.


    I think its problematic that parties can run with an election promise of "we won't go into coalition with them".

    After the results FF and FG both said they couldn't go into coalition with SF because people had voted for them because of this promise. Well who knows what % of their vote had that has a priority, but they made it a pillar of the campaign anyway. This deadlocked things before the count had even started.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,164 ✭✭✭efanton


    Umaro wrote: »
    I think its problematic that parties can run with an election promise of "we won't go into coalition with them".

    After the results FF and FG both said they couldn't go into coalition with SF because people had voted for them because of this promise. Well who knows what % of their vote had that has a priority, but they made it a pillar of the campaign anyway. This deadlocked things before the count had even started.

    But neither got a majority vote.

    So even if they formed a coalition they would have to compromise on many of their manifesto pledges anyhow to find common ground.

    So using the excuse 'it is what we campaigned on' simply does not wash.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 136 ✭✭Long_Wave


    In 2007 it only took about 2 weeks after the GE for the green party to have signed up for government with FF(+the leftover pds + Jackie Healy-Rae). Considering how different the green party and FF were in 2007, it's absolutely ridiculous that FF & FG who have identical policies and have been in government together in all but name the past 4 years haven't formed a government, 7 ministers each, a rotating taoiseach and support from Sean Canny, Marian Harkin etc, job done.


  • Registered Users Posts: 26,014 ✭✭✭✭Peregrinus


    efanton wrote: »
    True. but its also ridiculous that FF/FG having refused to even consider SF as a partner. are dancing round in circles as if there can be another government possible now other than a FF/FG/other government.

    Had FF not slammed the door in SF's face a FF/SF coalition might have been possible.
    Well, for that matter if SF didn’t have the rather murky background it does, an FF/SF coalition might have been possible. But we are where we are.
    efanton wrote: »
    The point here is parties were well aware of the few options available to form a government withing the first week, yet they dance around and expect the electorate to belief that they are working as hard as they can to form a government. They are elected representatives its their job to accept the will of the people not the other way round. If FF and SF are the biggest parties with enough commonality to potentially form a government FF had no right to slam doors. It was the peoples right to decide if SF were suitable for government not FG or FF. The same goes for any other party.
    Exactly. And 3 out of 4 people, offered the opportunity to vote for SF, gave their first preference to someone else. We can say that many people consider SF suitable for government; we certainly can’t say that “the people” do, or even that a majority of the people do.

    The bottom line here is that for a viable government to emerge from this process, anyone who wants to participate in that government is going to have to do a bit of climbing-down from positions previously adopted. That goes for SF as much as it does for anyone else. The relevant fact here is not that SF did much better than predicted or expected, or that they got more votes than any other party; it’s that they failed to secure a majority, just like all the other parties.

    But this opens up an opportunity, for parties willing to take it. The fact that you haven’t secured a majority makes it easier to climb down from the positions you’ve previously adopted because, clearly, those positions have not won a mandate from the people. And the people are sovereign, aren’t they?

    But this climbing down can be a difficult process. You have to climb down carefully, and strategically, and intelligently, in a way that does actually lead to the formation of a viable government. And since this depends also on how and in what ways other potential governement partners do their climbing-down, it tends to proceed fairly cautiously. And, secondly, you have to bring your supporters, your key stakeholders, and important opinion-influencers, along with you.

    In short, doing this successfully takes time. Which is basically why I’m opposed to this idea of a fixed guillotine, which will cut off the process at an arbitrary point and default to a new election. In a multi-party democracy with no dominant players, the key political skills are finding common ground and consensus-building, and you need a constitutional order which encourages that and makes the space for it.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,164 ✭✭✭efanton


    Peregrinus wrote: »
    Well, for that matter if SF didn’t have the rather murky background it does, an FF/SF coalition might have been possible. But we are where we are.


    Exactly. And 3 out of 4 people, offered the opportunity to vote for SF, gave their first preference to someone else. We can say that many people consider SF suitable for government; we certainly can’t say that “the people” do, or even that a majority of the people do.

    The bottom line here is that for a viable government to emerge from this process, anyone who wants to participate in that government is going to have to do a bit of climbing-down from positions previously adopted. That goes for SF as much as it does for anyone else. The relevant fact here is not that SF did much better than predicted or expected, or that they got more votes than any other party; it’s that they failed to secure a majority, just like all the other parties.

    But this opens up an opportunity, for parties willing to take it. The fact that you haven’t secured a majority makes it easier to climb down from the positions you’ve previously adopted because, clearly, those positions have not won a mandate from the people. And the people are sovereign, aren’t they?

    But this climbing down can be a difficult process. You have to climb down carefully, and strategically, and intelligently, in a way that does actually lead to the formation of a viable government. And since this depends also on how and in what ways other potential governement partners do their climbing-down, it tends to proceed fairly cautiously. And, secondly, you have to bring your supporters, your key stakeholders, and important opinion-influencers, along with you.

    In short, doing this successfully takes time. Which is basically why I’m opposed to this idea of a fixed guillotine, which will cut off the process at an arbitrary point and default to a new election. In a multi-party democracy with no dominant players, the key political skills are finding common ground and consensus-building, and you need a constitutional order which encourages that and makes the space for it.

    Which obviously is not happening.
    Micheál Martin 'rattled' as sparks fly at Fianna Fáil party meeting where 'rhetoric' on SF criticised
    https://www.breakingnews.ie/ireland/micheal-martin-rattled-as-sparks-fly-at-fianna-fail-party-meeting-where-rhetoric-on-sf-criticised-985996.html
    Leo Varadkar re-emphasised his insistence that his party will not enter government
    https://www.breakingnews.ie/ireland/fine-gael-insist-they-wont-go-into-govt-after-ff-policy-exchange-985773.html

    Surely the will of the people should be respected. its not for FF or FG to decide that SF were not fit for government, that was the electorates decision.

    I can understand FG not talking to SF, their policies are diametrically opposed, but still they should have gone through that formality. That meeting would be over in a matter of hours.

    I cant understand Michael Matins approach, FF and SF share far more common ground, especially when many in his own party actually disagree with him.
    Leo will stay leader of FG, but if Michael Martin cant get a coalition with FG over the line he will be gone at their next Ard Feis if he doesnt resign as leader before then.

    I hope Leo and Michael know what they are doing, but it going to end horribly for both if another election is the result.

    I can see FG trying to make Martin to open talks with SF. It would be the tactical thing to do, to extract maximum concessions. But I could see that back firing spectacularly if SF refused to deal with FF while Martin remains leader.

    The Greens are making demands that FF party simply will not agree to, such as the scrapping of the N20, and the longer these talks take the less likely it will be for the Green to come on board.

    As I see it neither Leo nor Michael have the time to 'have to climb down carefully, and strategically, and intelligently'. There is only two games in town now a FF/FG coalition if and only if the Greens are prepared to jump on board, or a new election.


  • Registered Users Posts: 26,014 ✭✭✭✭Peregrinus


    efanton wrote: »
    Which obviously is not happening.


    https://www.breakingnews.ie/ireland/micheal-martin-rattled-as-sparks-fly-at-fianna-fail-party-meeting-where-rhetoric-on-sf-criticised-985996.html


    https://www.breakingnews.ie/ireland/fine-gael-insist-they-wont-go-into-govt-after-ff-policy-exchange-985773.html

    Surely the will of the people should be respected. its not for FF or FG to decide that SF were not fit for government, that was the electorates decision.
    Well, you can argue that the electorate have made precisely that decision, in not giving SF the seats it needed to form a government.
    efanton wrote: »
    I can understand FG not talking to SF, their policies are diametrically opposed, but still they should have gone through that formality. That meeting would be over in a matter of hours.

    I cant understand Michael Matins approach, FF and SF share far more common ground, especially when many in his own party actually disagree with him.
    Leo will stay leader of FG, but if Michael Martin cant get a coalition with FG over the line he will be gone at their next Ard Feis if he doesnt resign as leader before then.
    I dunno. It seems to me that FF and FG are a lot closer to one another than either is to SF. An FF/FG dominated government with SF in opposition looks to me like the most obvious, and most stable, arrangement.
    efanton wrote: »
    I hope Leo and Michael know what they are doing, but it going to end horribly for both if another election is the result.
    Yes, but I don't particularly care about that. I am not heavily invested in the welfare of either Varadkar or Martin. What matters more is whether another election would be conducive to producing a viable, stable government. And I'm not convinced that it would.
    efanton wrote: »
    I can see FG trying to make Martin to open talks with SF. It would be the tactical thing to do, to extract maximum concessions. But I could see that back firing spectacularly if SF refused to deal with FF while Martin remains leader.

    The Greens are making demands that FF party simply will not agree to, such as the scrapping of the N20, and the longer these talks take the less likely it will be for the Green to come on board.

    As I see it neither Leo nor Michael have the time to 'have to climb down carefully, and strategically, and intelligently'. There is only two games in town now a FF/FG coalition if and only if the Greens are prepared to jump on board, or a new election.
    And, of those two games, the one most likely to produce a viable stable government is the FF/FG coaltion. And if your concern is that the parties concerned don't have the time they need to accustom themselves to what they have to do, then a rule which artificially limits the time available for the purpose looks to me like a bad one.

    Tl;dr: the priority here is not getting a government quickly; it's getting a viable, stable government. Arbitrary time limits don't look to me to be aligned with this priority.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,164 ✭✭✭efanton


    Well, you can argue that the electorate have made precisely that decision, in not giving SF the seats it needed to form a government.

    We could argue that case for ALL parties.

    I'm not arguing that SF should be part of government, my argument is that there should not be this time wasting, especially when its obvious that there are only two possible options a FF/FG government or another election.

    Yet only tonight Leo still insisted that his party will not enter government.
    So is he lying, or is he just wasting time, or both?
    Why not say talks are still in progress? Why not say a decision has yet to be made?
    hardly the talk of a party who are accustoming themselves to what they have to do

    You can see where this is going it will take another two weeks for a decision to form a collation if they can get the Green's on boards as well (which is totally avoidable) and then two weeks or more to draft a programme for government (two weeks or more that is NOT avoidable).
    So a full month will have been wasted before the nitty gritty of agreeing a program for government starts when that decision could have been decided in a matter of a week.

    Its the program for government that will determine whether a government remains stable not the initial decision to form a coalition.

    If it takes that long of a TD or a party to come to a decision do we really want them in government making crucial decisions for the country? Surely you re not telling me it takes them that much time to make a decision once they are in power?

    In the meantime the country has no government that could pass legislation, especially when you consider what might happen with this corona virus.

    So yes despite your valid concerns I think 8 weeks would be an appropriate time limit.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,435 ✭✭✭Imreoir2


    efanton wrote: »
    Surely the will of the people should be respected. its not for FF or FG to decide that SF were not fit for government, that was the electorates decision.

    The people do not elect the government, they elect TDs. The will of the people is that 37 of those TD would be members of SF and this has been respected. That the other TDs in the Dáil don't want to do a deal to put SF in government has nothing to do with the supposed "will of the people". Government formation is a job for elected representatives, it is not a matter of trying to devine what the "will of the people" dictates.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,164 ✭✭✭efanton


    Imreoir2 wrote: »
    The people do not elect the government, they elect TDs. The will of the people is that 37 of those TD would be members of SF and this has been respected. That the other TDs in the Dáil don't want to do a deal to put SF in government has nothing to do with the supposed "will of the people". Government formation is a job for elected representatives, it is not a matter of trying to devine what the "will of the people" dictates.

    Generally people will vote for a party. More than often they will vote for a sub par TD in order to support that party.

    If a TD is elected, no matter which party they represent, ALL TD's and ALL parties should respect that the people of that constituency elected that TD to represent them as a TD or if that party has sufficient numbers as potentially a minister.

    Th point remains though that NO party should be excluded from talks in government formation. If there is significant policy differences between two party's then I agree that it is unlikely and unreasonable to expect them to become government partners, those talks would be over in a matter of hours, but never the less should take place.

    But the fact remains SF And FF were the most popular party's in the country, and no TD, or existing government member has the right to declare any elected TD unfit to be in government.


  • Registered Users Posts: 339 ✭✭IAmTheReign


    efanton wrote: »
    But the fact remains SF And FF were the most popular party's in the country, and no TD, or existing government member has the right to declare any elected TD unfit to be in government.

    Of course they have the right to. TDs voice opinions on who should or shouldn't be in government all the time. Normally it's the opposition saying it about whoever is in office. For example here is Sinn Fein publicly declaring Simon Harris is unfit for office


  • Registered Users Posts: 18,921 ✭✭✭✭BonnieSituation


    efanton wrote: »
    Generally people will vote for a party. More than often they will vote for a sub par TD in order to support that party.

    If a TD is elected, no matter which party they represent, ALL TD's and ALL parties should respect that the people of that constituency elected that TD to represent them as a TD or if that party has sufficient numbers as potentially a minister.

    TDs are legislators. They are not delegates* and as such, representing the people is not their primary role.
    Th point remains though that NO party should be excluded from talks in government formation. If there is significant policy differences between two party's then I agree that it is unlikely and unreasonable to expect them to become government partners, those talks would be over in a matter of hours, but never the less should take place.

    So there should be meetings involving ALL 160 TDs to shape a government?

    The only input the Dáil has in govt formation is the vote for Taoiseach. That's it.
    But the fact remains SF And FF were the most popular party's in the country, and no TD, or existing government member has the right to declare any elected TD unfit to be in government.

    We have a PR-STV system. Popularity is not a prerequisite to government formation. It just usually how they are formed. Usually. What happened at the last GE is unprecedented in Irish parliamentary history.

    Technically any grouping of at least 80 TDs can form a coalition govt. Nothing stopping anybody, except maths.


    *NB. I am of course ignoring the literal translation of TD of "Assembly Delegate" as "Member of the Dáil is the accepted translation today.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,164 ✭✭✭efanton


    TDs are legislators. They are not delegates* and as such, representing the people is not their primary role.

    I totally and utterly disagree with your view.
    A TD's primary role is to represent their constituents and only implement new legislation when appropriate legislation does not exist, or existent legislation is lacking. It is also their duty to fairly debate and vote on any budget a government may wish to introduce.

    The more legislation that is created the more complex our legal system becomes along with all the draw backs that come with that. Civil liberties become eroded, increased policing and all the additional resources that requires (additional gardai and courts personnel, increased administration, higher legal costs), along with the justifiable fear that we end up with a nanny state or a state where executive powers are more likely to be abused if a TD's primary purpose is to enact new legislation.

    The vast majority of our country's problems can be addressed with existing legislation and its a TD's primary role to point out where this existing legislation is not being enforced or used to the benefit of their constituents, or to contest or force modification of new legislation that a government may wish to introduce where they feel that legislation does not meet their constituents needs.

    So there should be meetings involving ALL 160 TDs to shape a government?

    The only input the Dáil has in govt formation is the vote for Taoiseach. That's it.

    You misrepresent totally what I said. I said all parties with a big enough mandate that could form a government should at least have their negotiation teams meet. Maybe a party would be willing to concede key parts of their manifesto in order to form a government, maybe there might be sufficient overlap of policies where a consensus could be arrived at for a potential program of government. Until such a meeting takes place no one would ever know what is negotiable and what is not. I find it impossible to believe that it would take more than eight weeks for any party to realise that they cannot find enough compatible partners to form a government.

    We have a PR-STV system. Popularity is not a prerequisite to government formation. It just usually how they are formed. Usually. What happened at the last GE is unprecedented in Irish parliamentary history.

    You do understand the key aim of a PR-STV system? It is to try ensure that a government is formed that most represents the divergent views of the electorate. In an ideal situation the parties that form a government should represent the majority of voters. This obviously is not always possible despite that being the aim of the voting system. In an ideal world there would be a SF/FF coalition already in government as that best represents the results of the election.

    Technically any grouping of at least 80 TDs can form a coalition govt. Nothing stopping anybody, except maths.
    Technically you are wrong. 80 seats are not required, but its unlikely that such a government would last long.
    In fact it is unlikely in the current situation that a FG/FF coalition would last long once the independents they will rely on jump ship. The point is this election is almost unique in that there is no clear path to forming a government with an overall majority. A time limit on government formation would focus minds on finding common ground and if that was not possible then hasten another election if not enough common ground could be found.

    Can you name a single government formed in the history of this state where the party that gained the most seats was not part of government?
    It is unlikely you could name a government in any democratic country where the party with the largest number of seats did not enter government?
    I would assume there is a good reason why that not the case.

    We are now into the eighth week after an election where a government has not been formed and it is unlikely a government will be formed in the next two or three weeks.

    I cannot see any reason whatsoever why this country should be without government for almost there months, and quite possibly longer. Surely, especially in the current backdrop of a virus epidemic, there is a perfectly valid case for a time limit to be set on government formation.


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 19,336 Mod ✭✭✭✭Sam Russell


    efanton wrote: »
    I cannot see any reason whatsoever why this country should be without government for almost there months, and quite possibly longer. Surely, especially in the current backdrop of a virus epidemic, there is a perfectly valid case for a time limit to be set on government formation.

    It could be given to the President to decide that a GE should be called if (s)he is of the opinion, taking the advice of the Council of State, that a Taoiseach cannot command a majority in he Dail.

    Currently the President can deny the request for a GE - this would just be the corollary


  • Registered Users Posts: 859 ✭✭✭Randy Archer


    efanton wrote: »
    True. but its also ridiculous that FF/FG having refused to even consider SF as a partner. are dancing round in circles as if there can be another government possible now other than a FF/FG/other government.

    Had FF not slammed the door in SF's face a FF/SF coalition might have been possible.

    The point here is parties were well aware of the few options available to form a government withing the first week, yet they dance around and expect the electorate to belief that they are working as hard as they can to form a government. They are elected representatives its their job to accept the will of the people not the other way round. If FF and SF are the biggest parties with enough commonality to potentially form a government FF had no right to slam doors. It was the peoples right to decide if SF were suitable for government not FG or FF. The same goes for any other party.

    With regards that you might not still form a government if there was another election, i think the Irish electorate are savvy enough to adjust their voting to so that the government could be formed, and vent their anger and refuse to vote for parties with the biggest mandates who refuse to form coalitions if it came to a third election. Political parties are well aware of that, and if they get punished for forcing yet more elections that punishment is totally justified.

    TD's are elected by the people to do a job, it's their job to now get on with it.
    An employee doesn't tell an employer what work conditions or who they will not work with after accepting a job. If theses TD's don't want the job then they should never have stood.

    If their manifesto or previous record wasn't sufficient to garner a majority vote then they only have themselves to blame and that goes for all parties including SF. THey must accept what they offered was not acceptable to the majority of the people and be prepared to comprise so a government can be formed. If there was another election and SF/FF had an outright majority then SF have to accept they will be working with FF, and FF will have to accept they will be working with SF and both will have to find common ground. Instead of slinging mud that energy would be better used finding a way to work together.

    Its the new reality that from now on this country's elections will not result in one party having a majority. I dont think that has sunk in with the political parties yet, so
    I still think a time limited period for forming government would be a good idea.

    Why is it ridiculous ? SF policy, or lack thereof , is a complete contrast to what FF and FG Stand for . Now is not the time for newbies and amateurs who know next to nothing about running the country or any form of governance

    If the rest of the left decided not to throw their hat in with SF , why should FF and FG ,who have a combined total of over 70 seats between them ,agree to work with SF. We can now all see how laughable and unworkable SF pre election promises have become, if they had any doubt prior to the election

    Ff did indeed say no coalition to SF before rhis recent election. They have a mandate from their supporters to not work with SF . FG were never going to work with SF , and whatever about FF and SF actually working (plausible ) FG personnel, history and policy made it a no go .

    When you got Mary Lou proudly declaring that they will end FF and FF just after the election count, and form a mad cap left wing coalition (informing labour hostility towards SF ) but that count made it bleeding obvious that they would need to talk to FF or FG , then you got someone who you can’t take seriously . What fool makes such announcements like that ? Can’t even do basic math ...

    The sooner the parties, including SF , succeed to form a government the better , if it’s not possible , a new election once this Covid issue is controlled


  • Registered Users Posts: 859 ✭✭✭Randy Archer


    Umaro wrote: »
    I think its problematic that parties can run with an election promise of "we won't go into coalition with them".

    After the results FF and FG both said they couldn't go into coalition with SF because people had voted for them because of this promise. Well who knows what % of their vote had that has a priority, but they made it a pillar of the campaign anyway. This deadlocked things before the count had even started.

    It enough for FF TDs to threat to resign if they go and do business with SF. MICHEÁL is on thin ice with his own party and has no wiggle room ,should he be keen on doing a deal with SF (and he’s the one, on paper anyway, to be most against SF) Why ? Sf and FF are chasing the same voters .not in FF business to work with SF . FF will be banking on the usual SF self implosion ,which may not actually arise as they have milked the IRA stuff for a long time now and that well might be running dry


  • Registered Users Posts: 859 ✭✭✭Randy Archer


    efanton wrote: »
    Generally people will vote for a party. More than often they will vote for a sub par TD in order to support that party.

    If a TD is elected, no matter which party they represent, ALL TD's and ALL parties should respect that the people of that constituency elected that TD to represent them as a TD or if that party has sufficient numbers as potentially a minister.

    Th point remains though that NO party should be excluded from talks in government formation. If there is significant policy differences between two party's then I agree that it is unlikely and unreasonable to expect them to become government partners, those talks would be over in a matter of hours, but never the less should take place.

    But the fact remains SF And FF were the most popular party's in the country, and no TD, or existing government member has the right to declare any elected TD unfit to be in government.

    So by your logic, Michael Lowry is fit to be in government .sweet Jesus h Christ ...

    It’s not always a vote for the party either, some guys have a personal vote rather than just the party. How else would someone like Brendan Howlin manage to get elected time and time again during Labours highs and lows (he did get one election without campaigning as he was a ceann comhairle)

    People waffle about the excellent first preference vote SF got , but that is massively inflated . Not a dig at SF party strategists as they played a blinder .

    Look at where they scored their biggest Counts. The border counties , they got 40-45% of the vote in Donegal, Cavan Monaghan , Louth . They did marvellous in the crowded Dublin 8 area with double the quota .

    But where else did they get over 40 % ? Again, yes, they toped the polls in many areas, one remarkable one was Cork South Central where 3 ,not 2 , would be Taoisigh /party leaders of the present and future were lagging behind

    So do the border counties and Dublin 8 speak for the rest of the State ?

    More people voted for non SF parties than they did vote Sf


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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,164 ✭✭✭efanton


    So by your logic, Michael Lowry is fit to be in government .sweet Jesus h Christ ...
    He is no longer a member of any party. How would could he possibly be in government unless FF invited him?
    It’s not always a vote for the party either, some guys have a personal vote rather than just the party. How else would someone like Brendan Howlin manage to get elected time and time again during Labours highs and lows (he did get one election without campaigning as he was a ceann comhairle)
    Not always, but more than often the case. There are still families and thousands of people in this country that would support a party without even considering who the candidate was, and there is no denying that.
    People waffle about the excellent first preference vote SF got , but that is massively inflated . Not a dig at SF party strategists as they played a blinder .
    But its not votes that count is it? It is the number of seats in the Dail attained.
    Look at where they scored their biggest Counts. The border counties , they got 40-45% of the vote in Donegal, Cavan Monaghan , Louth . They did marvellous in the crowded Dublin 8 area with double the quota .

    But where else did they get over 40 % ? Again, yes, they toped the polls in many areas, one remarkable one was Cork South Central where 3 ,not 2 , would be Taoisigh /party leaders of the present and future were lagging behind

    So do the border counties and Dublin 8 speak for the rest of the State ?

    More people voted for non SF parties than they did vote Sf

    of 37 SF candidates elected 27 were elected on the first count. Is there really that many constituencies in the border counties? Would it be fairer to say that in general SF did better than every party in most constituencies across the country than any other party if we are talking about first preference votes and not transfers. What they lacked in comparison to FF or FG was total number of candidates. Had they run more there's no doubt that SF would be looking at 40 seats at least. No doubt a lesson learned for SF HQ along with ensuring next time out they have solid transfer agreements with parties that they might rely on, and transfer to, where possible in order to be able to form a government.

    More people voted for non SF parties than they did vote Sf agreed, but even more voted against FG or FF. so whats you point? Is there a point?

    But the point of the thread was should the constitution be amended. Eight weeks now and no sign of a government. If, and its looking like a bigger if by the day, FF and FF can get their act together and recruit 10 independents we are looking at at least 10 to 12 weeks. Should the country be without government for 3 months, especially in the midst of a crisis that might require further legislation. Would a time limit not have sharpened and focused minds on getting an agreement to form a government quicker?


  • Registered Users Posts: 859 ✭✭✭Randy Archer


    efanton wrote: »
    He is no longer a member of any party. How would could he possibly be in government unless FF invited him?


    Not always, but more than often the case. There are still families and thousands of people in this country that would support a party without even considering who the candidate was, and there is no denying that.


    But its not votes that count is it? It is the number of seats in the Dail attained.



    of 37 SF candidates elected 27 were elected on the first count. Is there really that many constituencies in the border counties? Would it be fairer to say that in general SF did better than every party in most constituencies across the country than any other party if we are talking about first preference votes and not transfers. What they lacked in comparison to FF or FG was total number of candidates. Had they run more there's no doubt that SF would be looking at 40 seats at least. No doubt a lesson learned for SF HQ along with ensuring next time out they have solid transfer agreements with parties that they might rely on, and transfer to, where possible in order to be able to form a government.

    More people voted for non SF parties than they did vote Sf agreed, but even more voted against FG or FF. so whats you point? Is there a point?

    1. Lowry always forms a technical group for speaking rights. McGrath ,Moron and Ross had no problems getting Ministerial roles despite canvassing as Independents . Zappone was also an Independent and she got the children’s gig

    Lowry gets voted into the Dáil, by your logic , he has every right to be considered to form a government ,as does most Independents who always form a technical group in order to get speaking rights . There’s nothing stopping any party from inviting any Independent into government, which they have multiple times

    2. Don’t deny the blind faith party support ,regardless of candidate , but people do have personal votes too

    3. Agree, seats ,not how many first preferences votes,do count, but try telling that to Shinners over the first month since the elections ,waffling about said first preference votes .

    4. Two SF candidates got elected on the first count in Donegal . Same in Cavan Monaghan and I think in Louth, or least the second Shinner got in by the third . That 6 TDs in those three constituencies

    As for the waffle about if Shinners ran more and being so certain lol . Based on what ? Their existence in many counties is almost non existent and they got wiped out in the locals .

    Name one credible SF candidate from Dublin Central who could be strong enough to take advantage of Mary Lou’s surplus vote and get in and avoid splitting Mary Lou’s vote . Likewise do the same for Dublin 8 where Aegnus got a monster vote .

    If you look around the countRay, some of the sf folk who got through were already knocking on the door for some time eg the girl in Mayo . A few others do well in the locals so Dáil was possible in time but of course there were a few out of the blue votes eg Westmeath

    Nothing against the SF Girl from Roscommon - Galway (and her main area was the small Galway part, so getting elected was impressive ) but she got lucky big time . Something that won’t happen next time , here’s why

    FF completely ****ed that up by forcing the sitting FF Td to be partnered up with another FF candidate (Heyden) literally at the last minute, that split the ff vote that is always there in Roscommon . Just like the balls up SF made in Donegal in the General election in 2016, needlessly losing a safe seat when they tried to grab three . That mistake won’t happen in Roscommon again

    Then there’s Westmeath Longford. By no means was Boxer Moran that popular despite the Shannon stuff he claimed he did (failed to vote for the army ,which was a death sentence to his political career in a garrison town) ,but the fact that the people in South Westmeath ie Athlone now realise they don’t have a TD , the SF girl in Mullingar , who had unceremoniously got told to jog on in the local elections , would struggle to keep her seat , because FG aren’t going to lose theirs , and Longford will vote tactically too to get their man in (And he won’t be a SF candidate )

    Shin Fein ran all the credible candidates that they had and well done them. Had they not spent the last five years bullying people out of the party well, then maybe you’d have a point .


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,164 ✭✭✭efanton


    1. Lowry always forms a technical group for speaking rights. McGrath ,Moron and Ross had no problems getting Ministerial roles despite canvassing as Independents . Zappone was also an Independent and she got the children’s gig

    Lowry gets voted into the Dáil, by your logic , he has every right to be considered to form a government ,as does most Independents who always form a technical group in order to get speaking rights . There’s nothing stopping any party from inviting any Independent into government, which they have multiple times

    2. Don’t deny the blind faith party support ,regardless of candidate , but people do have personal votes too

    3. Agree, seats ,not how many first preferences votes,do count, but try telling that to Shinners over the first month since the elections ,waffling about said first preference votes .

    4. Two SF candidates got elected on the first count in Donegal . Same in Cavan Monaghan and I think in Louth, or least the second Shinner got in by the third . That 6 TDs in those three constituencies

    As for the waffle about if Shinners ran more and being so certain lol . Based on what ? Their existence in many counties is almost non existent and they got wiped out in the locals .

    Name one credible SF candidate from Dublin Central who could be strong enough to take advantage of Mary Lou’s surplus vote and get in and avoid splitting Mary Lou’s vote . Likewise do the same for Dublin 8 where Aegnus got a monster vote .

    If you look around the countRay, some of the sf folk who got through were already knocking on the door for some time eg the girl in Mayo . A few others do well in the locals so Dáil was possible in time but of course there were a few out of the blue votes eg Westmeath

    Nothing against the SF Girl from Roscommon - Galway (and her main area was the small Galway part, so getting elected was impressive ) but she got lucky big time . Something that won’t happen next time , here’s why

    FF completely ****ed that up by forcing the sitting FF Td to be partnered up with another FF candidate (Heyden) literally at the last minute, that split the ff vote that is always there in Roscommon . Just like the balls up SF made in Donegal in the General election in 2016, needlessly losing a safe seat when they tried to grab three . That mistake won’t happen in Roscommon again

    Then there’s Westmeath Longford. By no means was Boxer Moran that popular despite the Shannon stuff he claimed he did (failed to vote for the army ,which was a death sentence to his political career in a garrison town) ,but the fact that the people in South Westmeath ie Athlone now realise they don’t have a TD , the SF girl in Mullingar , who had unceremoniously got told to jog on in the local elections , would struggle to keep her seat , because FG aren’t going to lose theirs , and Longford will vote tactically too to get their man in (And he won’t be a SF candidate )

    Shin Fein ran all the credible candidates that they had and well done them. Had they not spent the last five years bullying people out of the party well, then maybe you’d have a point .

    Lowry has no party. When people vote for him they do not expect him to be sitting at the cabinet table. If that happens its a bonus for them, but only through the stupidity of a FF government that would invite him.

    Even if an independent got roped in to make the number for a government to be formed you can be damn sure they will be following the party line of whoever they are supporting, As far as the voter is concerned if they vote FG and FG use an independent then that independent is for all intensive purposes a FG man for the duration of that government. Same story if FF or SF had to use an independent to make up the numbers (except for the bit about them being a FG man of course :P )

    As for the rest of your post what has that all to do with the topic of the thread?

    Should there be a time limit for formation of government or some other trigger such as the president being able to determine that a new election should be called if they feel there is no progress on forming a coalition as Sam Russell has suggested?


  • Registered Users Posts: 339 ✭✭IAmTheReign


    efanton wrote: »
    I cannot see any reason whatsoever why this country should be without government for almost there months, and quite possibly longer. Surely, especially in the current backdrop of a virus epidemic, there is a perfectly valid case for a time limit to be set on government formation.

    But your a SF supporter no? How long did NI go without a government?


  • Registered Users Posts: 32,136 ✭✭✭✭is_that_so


    Long_Wave wrote: »
    It seems to me that there is nothing to stop a previous government going a whole 5 year term in these hung dail situations. We currently have an number of ministers who have lost their seats, even though the constitution says a minister must be a TD (or 2 can come from the seanad). Surely at a minimum portfolios of ministers who have lost their seats should be reassigned to ministers with seats.
    If you're gung ho to change the Constitution be sure you know what part of it you are going after. Article 28 will tell you what's going on at present. It is a simple approach and has served us well but with upheavals of 2016 and now 2020 it has people imagining there is all sorts of nefarious skullduggery afoot. Once you even get a possible amendment down on paper you had better make sure the public understand what it is and why they need to vote, otherwise it will be rejected.


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,263 ✭✭✭alias no.9


    efanton wrote: »
    Can you name a single government formed in the history of this state where the party that gained the most seats was not part of government?

    There have been at 3 coalition governments in my lifetime than have excluded the party with the most seats and I'm in my early 40s. The only thing that entitles any party to be in government is a parliamentary majority.

    While I agree that there should be a timely repeat election in the instance that parties fail to come together to command a parliamentary majority, lets kill the notion that any party has a right to be in government just because they got one more seat than another party

    I doubt you'd complain if the seat tally had been or possibly after the next election would be FG(45) SF(43) FF(40) and SF and FF went on to form a government, excluding FG which makes your argument disingenuous here.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,164 ✭✭✭efanton


    alias no.9 wrote: »
    There have been at 3 coalition governments in my lifetime than have excluded the party with the most seats and I'm in my early 40s. The only thing that entitles any party to be in government is a parliamentary majority.

    While I agree that there should be a timely repeat election in the instance that parties fail to come together to command a parliamentary majority, lets kill the notion that any party has a right to be in government just because they got one more seat than another party

    I doubt you'd complain if the seat tally had been or possibly after the next election would be FG(45) SF(43) FF(40) and SF and FF went on to form a government, excluding FG which makes your argument disingenuous here.


    No, I am not insisting that te party with the most seats MUST be part of any government formed. I dont believe I ever said that.
    Yes, I do believe that the onus was on the parties with the two biggest numbers of seats to meet and try find a way to forming government.
    If that was no a possibility, and I accept that no party can be forced into coalition, then unless other parties can come forward to form a coalition then a new general election should be called. All that takes time, but it does not take eight weeks to make those decisions.

    No I am not being disingenuous. I believe this should be the case no mater which party it benefits or does not benefit including SF.
    With a fixed time limit parties would be far more active in forming a coalition if possible and we would not see a situation like this where it could be 3 months before we have a government.

    Even now its uncertain that a FF/FG collation will work, today Labour categorically ruled themselves out, the Green have already said they want no part of a FF/FG coalition, which leaves FF/FG looking for 10 independents.
    Its likely that if FF/FG finally commit to agreeing to form a coalition there will still be a few weeks before they get the extra seats required.
    Had they known there was a limit all this effort we see in the last week or so would have taken place more than a month ago. So yes for the benefit of the country, not any particular party, I believe there should be a time limit on government formation, at which point a new election is automatically called.


  • Registered Users Posts: 912 ✭✭✭bekker


    TDs are legislators. They are not delegates* and as such, representing the people is not their primary role.



    So there should be meetings involving ALL 160 TDs to shape a government?

    The only input the Dáil has in govt formation is the vote for Taoiseach. That's it.



    We have a PR-STV system. Popularity is not a prerequisite to government formation. It just usually how they are formed. Usually. What happened at the last GE is unprecedented in Irish parliamentary history.

    Technically any grouping of at least 80 TDs can form a coalition govt. Nothing stopping anybody, except maths.


    *NB. I am of course ignoring the literal translation of TD of "Assembly Delegate" as "Member of the Dáil is the accepted translation today.
    Dropped in here to see if there is any constitutional bar to the caretaker Taoiseach simply appointing a pre-agreed list of Taoiseach Nominees with a Dáil vote in approval and the existing government continuing in caretaker roll until initial COVID-19 emergency has passed.

    But is appears from reading some posts that there appears to be some confusion evidenced on the role of political parties.

    Constitutionally there is none, legally they are just voluntary associations the same as a local tennis club. Dáil Standing Orders have been used to channel monies to them which though not in envisaged in the Constitution can be construed as within it's powers to organise itself as granted by the Constitution.

    The 1986 and 1992 Acts relate to registration of political parties for the purposes regulating the identification of a party affiliation on ballot papers.

    Each TD is elected solely as an individual representative of the constituency electorate, political parties are and always have been a branding exercise.

    (16) 2 1° Dáil Éireann shall be composed of members who represent constituencies determined by law.
    (16) 2 1° Ionadóirí do dháilcheantair a shocraítear le dlí comhaltas Dháil Éireann.

    PS The English version of the Constitution is the original, the translated version though having practical primacy can only have meaning on the semantic equivalence current at time of translation, not on 'current understanding'. Teachta Dála does not appear there.


  • Moderators, Business & Finance Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 67,521 Mod ✭✭✭✭L1011


    How else would someone like Brendan Howlin manage to get elected time and time again during Labours highs and lows (he did get one election without campaigning as he was a ceann comhairle)

    He was only Leas Ceann Comhairle, they still have to be re-elected as normal. He was still the second TD elected in the constituency as is normal (first or second since 1989)


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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,164 ✭✭✭efanton


    With Alan Kelly wining the Labour party leadership election will there be additional pressure exerted on the Labour party to join a FF/FG coalition?

    Does anyone think they will actually have a change of view and give FF/FG the number they need to form a government?


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