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17-10-2020, 11:51   #1
mobileforest
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Why do we have a Citizens' Assembly?

I see a few TDs tweet about awaiting something or other from the Citizens' Assembly. Can someone explain to me why we have this organisation? My understanding is that it’s a group of 100 citizens, randomly selected, who hold referendums on various policies. Minus the non-democratic element of random selection, isn’t this why we have the Dáil? What is the point of holding elections and electing representatives in a democracy when they in turn just take their decisions from a non-elected body of citizens.
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17-10-2020, 12:29   #2
Harry Palmr
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It's a panel to inform our governments of the experiences of ordinary people and what they think and why they think it. We need more of this not less. They are not strictly random - they are selected to represent the demographic profile of the population.
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17-10-2020, 12:58   #3
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At its essence the Dail is a chamber for addressing laws. Its purpose is primarily to propose, debate and create new legislation. It's not really suited to large scale, less tangible, matters, especially ones that would require constitutional changes.
It is also hamstrung by the fact that it is an inherently political body. Often times the members will be whipped into voting for things that they do not believe serve the greater good for reasons of political expediency.

I also don't think that the Dail membership is a true representation of the electorate, despite being chosen by them. Members of political parties are a small sub-section of society and successful Dail candidates are an even smaller sub-section again. It is extremely time consuming to run for an election and as such people who have careers that allow them to take time off or have fewer working hours have an advantage. That is one of the reasons why teachers and landlords are over-represented in the Dail.

I was initially skeptical about the Conventions but having watched some of their sessions live over webcam and seen their recommendations I think they serve a valuable role and I trust them to consider complex and difficult matters
in a manner that is representative of the electorate as a whole.
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17-10-2020, 13:03   #4
mobileforest
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Originally Posted by Harry Palmr View Post
It's a panel to inform our governments of the experiences of ordinary people and what they think and why they think it. We need more of this not less. They are not strictly random - they are selected to represent the demographic profile of the population.
The problem is that this is what a democratic government is suppose to be. Ordinary people not professional politicians (we have civil servants for this) is what TDs are meant to be. As for representing the demographic profile, this is why we each get one vote in an election. If the “government” needs a CA to understand what the average citizen wants then perhaps we have the wrong government.
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17-10-2020, 13:26   #5
Harry Palmr
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You put far too much store in professional elected politicians. Most of them are from a narrow range of backgrounds - white, middle class, farmers/teachers/professions. Ireland's population has changed enormously in the last 20 years, the TD's profile hasn't.
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17-10-2020, 13:51   #6
Brussels Sprout
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You put far too much store in professional elected politicians. Most of them are from a narrow range of backgrounds - white, middle class, farmers/teachers/professions. Ireland's population has changed enormously in the last 20 years, the TD's profile hasn't.
Not to mention that the majority of people in Ireland, women, are massively under-represented.
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17-10-2020, 13:54   #7
whisky_galore
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How are people chosen for the CA?
Are they paid?
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17-10-2020, 14:17   #8
CrabRevolution
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Not to mention that the majority of people in Ireland, women, are massively under-represented.
They're represented as much as the electorate (comprised of over 50% women) has chosen them to be. Same with any other "underrepresented" groups.
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17-10-2020, 14:21   #9
growleaves
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Originally Posted by mobileforest View Post
I see a few TDs tweet about awaiting something or other from the Citizens' Assembly. Can someone explain to me why we have this organisation? My understanding is that it’s a group of 100 citizens, randomly selected, who hold referendums on various policies. Minus the non-democratic element of random selection, isn’t this why we have the Dáil? What is the point of holding elections and electing representatives in a democracy when they in turn just take their decisions from a non-elected body of citizens.
They aren't randomly selected. They are selected from the lists of people who are registered to vote for starters.
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17-10-2020, 14:36   #10
Brussels Sprout
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They're represented as much as the electorate (comprised of over 50% women) has chosen them to be. Same with any other "underrepresented" groups.
That's a simplistic take that papers over a raft of complex, structural hurdles preventing people from underrepresented groups from getting a realistic shot of winning a seat.
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17-10-2020, 16:55   #11
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You put far too much store in professional elected politicians. Most of them are from a narrow range of backgrounds - white, middle class, farmers/teachers/professions. Ireland's population has changed enormously in the last 20 years, the TD's profile hasn't.
The people elect TDs. If the supposed “profile” of TDs is wrong, the blame lies with the electorate.
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17-10-2020, 17:49   #12
mobileforest
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You put far too much store in professional elected politicians. Most of them are from a narrow range of backgrounds - white, middle class, farmers/teachers/professions. Ireland's population has changed enormously in the last 20 years, the TD's profile hasn't.
I dont put any 'store' in the professional elected politicians. I put it with the voters. And when I last checked, every citizen, regardless of skin colour, gender, profession, or wealth, gets exactly one vote each.

I agree it would be nice to see more diversity in the TDs, but surely that would be better served by encouraging more individuals to enter politics and perhaps put support behind candidates who support polices that might bring about changes (for example, policies to block money and influence from larger donors who might be giving some established candidates an unfair advantage with campaigning). Saying there is a lack of women, non-white, etc in our democratic government so lets make an unelected body to 'correct' that is short sighted. Once we have a non-democratic method of governance in place, what is there to prevent some future there this is stacked with people who's intentions are less than noble.

The same inefficient democratic system that has made it a slow battle for change towards some goal like diversity is also the same system that prevents it from completely crushing and oppressing these same political minorities.
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17-10-2020, 17:51   #13
mobileforest
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That's a simplistic take that papers over a raft of complex, structural hurdles preventing people from underrepresented groups from getting a realistic shot of winning a seat.
Agreed. But creating a non-elected body to subvert the system is an even more simplistic (and short sighted) solution.
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17-10-2020, 20:47   #14
Harry Palmr
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The people elect TDs. If the supposed “profile” of TDs is wrong, the blame lies with the electorate.
I agree! But you're dealing with an ingrained "legacy" where too many still troop out to vote for the same old, it'll take decades before FF and FG look like the wider population, esp in the larger population centers. Hard to know how to speed up change, it's more likely that those parties will just wither in the cities and be replaced by a pick'n mix of small parties, independents.
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17-10-2020, 20:49   #15
blanch152
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Harry Palmr View Post
It's a panel to inform our governments of the experiences of ordinary people and what they think and why they think it. We need more of this not less. They are not strictly random - they are selected to represent the demographic profile of the population.
I don't think it is random at all.
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