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Should we drop Proportional Representation

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  • 06-07-2020 9:00am
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 4,426 ✭✭✭


    Since the two main parties are now one party should we drop the PR system.
    The old style of politics is over so it may be a good time to reform the whole thing. The PR system is for parties where loyal party members kinda fallow party guidelines. Is it needed in modern politics where people are informed?


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Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,048 ✭✭✭Brian201888


    What would be your alternative?


  • Registered Users Posts: 26,165 ✭✭✭✭Peregrinus


    I think you misunderstand the system we currently have. Far from being "for parties where loyal party members kinda fallow party guidelines" it's as system that takes power away from parties and gives it to invidual voters. The parties would of course like voters to be loyal party members who follow party guidelines, but parties will always like that, in any electoral system. The system we currently have maximises the incentive for voters not to behave like that; if we had the appalling UK system then votes of the loyalists would dictate the outcome far more than they do at present in Ireland.

    I don't see what your point has to do with FF and FG being "now one party". Even if this were true it would not be a reason to adopt an electoral system which gives more power to political parties and less to individual voters. If anything, the opposite.


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,426 ✭✭✭maestroamado


    Why do you assume i misunderstand anything?
    What is a loyalist?
    The parties have decided by their actions in recent years that their policies are the exact same.
    In recent weeks they have formed a partnership Government sharing top Job.
    They even agreed to put Michael Collins picture up in some office MM and Leo agreed i forget detail.
    That all to me suggests the same party...


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,426 ✭✭✭maestroamado


    What would be your alternative?


    Its kinda open to suggestions for now...


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


    mod note:

    Double post deleted and thread title changed to reflect OPs origional question.

    OP, this forum is for serious discussion not for political rhetoric. It is factually incorrect to say that FG and FF are the same party, even if the differences in their policies may be slight. Please provide substantial contributions to the discussion


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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 40,061 ✭✭✭✭Harry Palmr


    They are not the same party, if either has any chance to form a government without the other they will. This is just an arrangement for now. They probably should merge but that's another topic.

    As for voting, what I'd like to see is the end of multi-seat constituencies. They are massive waste of political energy as a TD's greatest potential enemy is a fellow TD of the same party in the same constituency. To avoid conflict parties "manage" areas so A gets one end of a county/area and B gets the other this in turns creates local fiefdoms and resentments between different parts of a county.


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Entertainment Moderators Posts: 35,941 CMod ✭✭✭✭pixelburp


    The PR system is to give a fairer representation of the national vote percentage; whatever one's feeling on the blatant Civil War hangover that are FG and FF, the reality is that we get more or less the governments the nation votes for - as opposed to FPTP which often results in obscenely skewed, sometimes minority governments and constituencies that are basically lock-ins for a specific party. Or indeed the electoral college which, as I get older, becomes more and more an affront of the concept of democracy itself.

    With any democratic system there are flaws, and there are those that manipulate or benefit from the system's grey edges but on balance PR limits these opportunities and gives fair results. My only initial thoughts on revisions might to limit the number of candidates a single party can run in a constituency.

    (Am open to correction here but my understanding of PR is that it generally means the % of votes for Party X reflects in the number of seats it gets in government)


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,426 ✭✭✭maestroamado


    mod note:

    Double post deleted and thread title changed to reflect OPs origional question.

    OP, this forum is for serious discussion not for political rhetoric. It is factually incorrect to say that FG and FF are the same party, even if the differences in their policies may be slight. Please provide substantial contributions to the discussion


    Sorry, so i will say they are identicial twins.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,130 ✭✭✭eldamo


    I used to bemoan our system as it inevitably results in a coalition where policies inevitably get watered down.

    But seeing the polarization that has happened in the UK and US where it seems that alienating exactly 49.9 percent of the population seems to be the way to go to get into power, i think we are better off sticking with what we have.


  • Moderators, Politics Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 24,268 Mod ✭✭✭✭Chips Lovell


    Coalition doesn't make two or more parties identical. It just means they have to reach a compromise agreeable to all for the term of the government. Most of our governments to date have been some form of coalition.


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  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Entertainment Moderators Posts: 35,941 CMod ✭✭✭✭pixelburp


    Coalition doesn't make two or more parties identical. It just means they have to reach a compromise agreeable to all for the term of the government. Most of our governments to date have been some form of coalition.

    I'd say the key "flaw", if you can call it that, of PR is that it kinda generates this smorgasbord of centrists parties - given coalition is the easier and more common path to government than an outlying and more extremist set of policies. So most parties will try to maintain a broadly "please everyone" manifesto. From the cynic's point of view it feels like a case of plus ca change as no new government has the boisterousness of a FPTP system - where you can get some seriously outsized manifestos and minority governments. In another political system, a party like Renua might actually have gained traction given its more emotive, extremist policies - yet in PR they're smothered by the desire for compromise and ... well, maturity of consideration.

    To be blunt, I'd take 100 FG/FF coalitions of peacemeal centrism over the same number of see-sawing UK governments that shuttle from one extreme of governance to the other. It's not very exciting, and it can feel like a cabal at first blush; but unless you have somewhere like Italy or France where a constant rotating door of parties and cabinets is ingrained into the national psyche, that's just the price paid for a stable government. I don't think we'll ever get something like a proper, Privatisation hungry government like the Tories precisely because our system demands something resembling compromise (though Varadkar seems keen on that model)


  • Registered Users Posts: 16,575 ✭✭✭✭osarusan


    Is it needed in modern politics where people are informed?
    Massive (and I would say, completely unfounded) assumption there.


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,426 ✭✭✭maestroamado


    They are not the same party, if either has any chance to form a government without the other they will. This is just an arrangement for now. They probably should merge but that's another topic.

    As for voting, what I'd like to see is the end of multi-seat constituencies. They are massive waste of political energy as a TD's greatest potential enemy is a fellow TD of the same party in the same constituency. To avoid conflict parties "manage" areas so A gets one end of a county/area and B gets the other this in turns creates local fiefdoms and resentments between different parts of a county.


    I think i may have worded it incorrectly.
    Because they persue the same policies they may as well be the same party...


  • Moderators, Politics Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 24,268 Mod ✭✭✭✭Chips Lovell


    pixelburp wrote: »
    I'd say the key "flaw", if you can call it that, of PR is that it kinda generates this smorgasbord of centrists parties - given coalition is the easier and more common path to government than an outlying and more extremist set of policies.

    I don't know. I've always felt that one of the strengths of PR is that it allows for a more diverse range of political positions. You can vote for a somewhat unorthodox candidate safe in the knowledge that if they don't get in, your vote isn't "wasted" and will go to someone nearer the middle ground. Two party systems, on the other hand, tend to foster "big tent" parties whose path to power is usually through capturing the middle ground.

    Now that does beg a lot of questions of course. Why are most Irish parties so close together policy-wise? I think that's less a consequence of PR and more of the Irish mindset. As a nation, we aren't inclined to radicalism. Go to Spain on the other hand and you could have everything from proper communists to barely reformed Francoists and everything in between.


  • Registered Users Posts: 21,581 ✭✭✭✭ELM327


    I'd be in favor of FPTP and smaller constituencies. Like in the UK. Removes all the loony parties.


  • Registered Users Posts: 9,305 ✭✭✭Macy0161


    eldamo wrote: »
    But seeing the polarization that has happened in the UK and US where it seems that alienating exactly 49.9 percent of the population seems to be the way to go to get into power, i think we are better off sticking with what we have.
    In 2019, the Tories got 43.6% of the vote. Trump only got 46% of the popular vote. It's more than 49.9% disenfranchised in those systems.


  • Registered Users Posts: 26,165 ✭✭✭✭Peregrinus


    ELM327 wrote: »
    I'd be in favor of FPTP and smaller constituencies. Like in the UK. Removes all the loony parties.
    . . . and deliver a thumping majority to a party which the majority of voters have rejected. Which may well be a loony party. (As it is right now, in the UK.)

    It's profoundly undemocratic.


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Entertainment Moderators Posts: 35,941 CMod ✭✭✭✭pixelburp


    I don't know. I've always felt that one of the strengths of PR is that it allows for a more diverse range of political positions. You can vote for a somewhat unorthodox candidate safe in the knowledge that if they don't get in, your vote isn't "wasted" and will go to someone nearer the middle ground. Two party systems, on the other hand, tend to foster "big tent" parties whose path to power is usually through capturing the middle ground.

    Now that does beg a lot of questions of course. Why are most Irish parties so close together policy-wise? I think that's less a consequence of PR and more of the Irish mindset. As a nation, we aren't inclined to radicalism. Go to Spain on the other hand and you could have everything from proper communists to barely reformed Francoists and everything in between.

    That's a fair point when you put it like that: certainly Ireland has benefitted from having avoided the larger upheavals in European politics over the last 100 years; for all the damage the DeValera monopoly managed throughout the 20th century, it still pales compared with - as you say - the persistence of political extremism as a boilerplate part of continental politics. Even in Germany, a country that reinvented itself into an arguably ideal version of Fedearlism IMO, it still struggles to properly rid itself of right wing extremism.

    But let's be further blunt here: what this entire conversation seems to come down to is either: I don't like FG/FF and want to throw the baby out with the bathwater; or "I like FPTP because it favours my team right this minute", and the inevitable, ongoing comparisons with UK as our metric for political structures.

    We never have these discussions about how we compare with France, Germany, Spain or Italy for instance (well, maybe not Italy as I'm not sure we'd have the stomach for a new Taoiseach every 12 months). It's always the UK. I mean I get it, it's just a shame we can't ever properly wriggle out of the UK's shadow.


  • Registered Users Posts: 21,581 ✭✭✭✭ELM327


    Peregrinus wrote: »
    . . . and deliver a thumping majority to a party which the majority of voters have rejected. Which may well be a loony party. (As it is right now, in the UK.)

    It's profoundly undemocratic.


    It can't be undemocratic as the people elected are done so as a result of counting ballots.


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,055 ✭✭✭JohnnyFlash


    No.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 2,110 ✭✭✭piplip87


    FPTP would end the outside voices like PBP, Solidarity and Labour IMO. The system we have alsways makes sure that there is more than two parties in the Dail. I see the Shinners bemoan the system we have at the moment because "They won the election". Without it however SF would not have gained a foothold as FF/FG and the odd independent would be all that got elected from the foundation of the state


  • Registered Users Posts: 26,165 ✭✭✭✭Peregrinus


    ELM327 wrote: »
    It can't be undemocratic as the people elected are done so as a result of counting ballots.
    Historical counter-examples abound.

    Counting ballots isn't enough to ensure democracy. For a start, you have to not rig the system to as to reduce the choice offered to people on the ballot paper, excluding what you consider to be "loony parties" and not allowing people to choose which candidate of their favoured party is to represent them. Then, you have to have a countying method which ensures that, so far as practicable, equal weight is attached to each voter's vote in determining the outcome of the election. FPTP fails both these tests; it's a system which concentrates power in the hands of the already-dominant parties, at the expense of the voters.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,664 ✭✭✭sid waddell


    Ireland has one of the best democratic systems in the world - which is to say it is one of the least worst systems.

    Change? No thanks.


  • Registered Users Posts: 21,581 ✭✭✭✭ELM327


    Peregrinus wrote: »
    Historical counter-examples abound.

    Counting ballots isn't enough to ensure democracy. For a start, you have to not rig the system to as to reduce the choice offered to people on the ballot paper, excluding what you consider to be "loony parties" and not allowing people to choose which candidate of their favoured party is to represent them. Then, you have to have a countying method which ensures that, so far as practicable, equal weight is attached to each voter's vote in determining the outcome of the election. FPTP fails both these tests; it's a system which concentrates power in the hands of the already-dominant parties, at the expense of the voters.


    So, a system where each constituency elects one TD, with the constituency lines drawn as pro rate to the population, is not democracy? Riiight


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,301 ✭✭✭Snickers Man


    Since the two main parties are now one party should we drop the PR system.

    There is no logic to the way you frame this question. It is a complete non sequitur from the introductory statement. It's like saying, given that Britain has now left the European Union should we all play cricket rather than hurling? To which you might answer: "Huh?"

    First thing to note is that dissimilar voting mechanisms can produce broadly similar outcomes. The mechanics of the British and American voting systems are very different, but they produce similar outcomes: namely you have effectively only one choice. Republican or Democrat? Labour or Conservative? Tweedledum or Tweedledee? Or as will likely be the case in the US this autumn: Statler or Waldorf? (Kanye West's just announced candidacy notwithstanding!!!!!)

    The Irish and Israeli systems, say, are also very different in detail but in practice they now produce similar outcomes: no party with an overall majority or anything like one and every general election is followed by intense horse trading on the subject of who's going to form the next coalition.

    That is essentially the choice facing us: what sort of basic system do you want? A highly polarised one like Britain or America, or a more consensus driven one like we have here?

    On the evidence of today's world I would respectfully say you would have to be stark, staring, swivel-eyed, hair-standing-on-end, screaming, gibbering, shivering, foot-stamping bonkers to opt for, let us call it the Anglo Saxon Bipolar Disorder.
    Look at Britain!
    Look at America!
    Both are led by people that the majority of sentient decent opinion would regard as deranged egotistical megalomanical lunatics. Trump's paranoid, vindictive infantile incoherent ramblings are obvious to everyone. And as for Boris? Well he's a bit of craic, sure! Jolly good fun at college, doyen of the Bullingdon Club. Always up for japes and larks, but is he the sort of clown you want running the country?
    By contrast, someone like Angela Merkel is staid, plain, dull and utterly unexciting but what do you want in a premier?
    Going down the pub for a yard of ale contest and a night of dwarf throwing while reminiscing about representing the old college at the Biscuit Game: then Boris is no better man.
    For guiding a country through a refugee crisis or a viral pandemic? Give me Merkel any day.

    Why is one system more likely to produce a Boris and another a Merkel? Because the Anglo-Saxon systems strait-jacket your choices into a single either-or. Boris, or whichever morose socialist Labour have as leader. One lives in abject fear of the split vote. Once the lines are drawn you can NOT have an alternative. All the discourse is about demonising the other side: Look at the way they try to attach the slur of Anti Semitism to the Labour party. Or in America how they demonise the "left" or the "alt-right". Knowing full well that if you raise misgivings about one side, there is nowhere effective for the undecided voter to go than yours.
    Tell me the state of US discourse is in a healthy place right now and I'll set the men in white coats on you. Tell me that Britain isn't dangerously divided about the very existence of the state in its current form and I'll say you're a fool.

    So what if Fianna Fail and Fine Gael are coming closer together? In a bipolar Anglo Saxon system that might be a problem; here it isn't because YOU DON'T HAVE TO VOTE FOR THEM!!!!

    You can even hedge your bets with the STV system, offering first preference votes to an alternative party and then, just in case they don't make it you can have your least disliked "main" party favoured over the one you really despise.

    Look at how our various countries are dealing with the existential threat that is the pandemic. Boris tried to laugh it off, Trump incites gun-toting lunatics to rebel against "Big Government" and "left-wing hoaxes". Here, we have a common-sense consensus with very little party-political point scoring on the handling of the crisis.

    Our system is more resilient to shocks, more conducive to consensus and yet grants the electorate the power to change dramatically should they want to. Sinn Fein now have a real chance as the main party of opposition to be at least part of an alternative government in a few years time. That's not something I welcome; I wouldn't vote for the bastards in a blue fit. But there is a genuine chance of the old duopoly being broken.

    You want the Anglo-Saxon bipolar madness, then I respectfully suggest you take yourself off to Britain or America. While you still can. :D:D


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,664 ✭✭✭sid waddell


    I don't know. I've always felt that one of the strengths of PR is that it allows for a more diverse range of political positions. You can vote for a somewhat unorthodox candidate safe in the knowledge that if they don't get in, your vote isn't "wasted" and will go to someone nearer the middle ground. Two party systems, on the other hand, tend to foster "big tent" parties whose path to power is usually through capturing the middle ground.

    Now that does beg a lot of questions of course. Why are most Irish parties so close together policy-wise? I think that's less a consequence of PR and more of the Irish mindset. As a nation, we aren't inclined to radicalism. Go to Spain on the other hand and you could have everything from proper communists to barely reformed Francoists and everything in between.

    Re. the bolded bit, that was to an extent the case for a time in the 1950s, 1960s, part of the 1970s and for a time in the 1990s but just as often, including the present, it has led to extremes, overwhelmingly on the right.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,130 ✭✭✭eldamo


    Macy0161 wrote: »
    In 2019, the Tories got 43.6% of the vote. Trump only got 46% of the popular vote. It's more than 49.9% disenfranchised in those systems.




    absolutely, here noone ends up being profoundly happy with the government we end up getting, but jesus, if I lived in the states I would be thinking about emigrating about now...


  • Moderators, Politics Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 24,268 Mod ✭✭✭✭Chips Lovell


    ...it has led to extremes, overwhelmingly on the right.

    Any examples?


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,205 ✭✭✭cruizer101


    ELM327 wrote: »
    So, a system where each constituency elects one TD, with the constituency lines drawn as pro rate to the population, is not democracy? Riiight

    It has a lot of potential to be undemocratic.

    Image we have 4 constituencies 3 with 45% support for A and 55% for B and last constituency with 70% support for A and 30% for B.
    The result of a FPTP election there results in B being in power even though the majority of people support A.

    The above may seem like an extreme example but with gerrymandering it is very possible.

    The below image shows the results of an election where republicans won 10 districts and democrats 3, the two maps below are with alternate districts, one favoring democrats, one non-partisan, see how much it can effect the results.


    gery.png


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  • Registered Users Posts: 5,301 ✭✭✭Snickers Man


    ELM327 wrote: »
    I'd be in favor of FPTP and smaller constituencies. Like in the UK. Removes all the loony parties.

    ...and instead embeds the loonies in the "respectable" parties. From which they scream about the "real loonies" in the other party safe in the knowledge that turning people away from the main opponent leaves them nowhere to go but to you. And all YOUR loonies.
    :confused::confused::confused:

    Look at the evidence of your own eyes. Tell me there are no loonies in charge in either Britain or America right now.


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