What is the fairest way to govern in a democratic society? If we vote for independent candidates or smaller parties, they have no clout. If we vote for candidates from larger parties, they have no independence and have to tow the party line. It is a failing of our political system that people feel they should vote for bigger established parties in order to exact any change. Voting for independent candidates or smaller parties can give the electorate more at local level but less at national level.
At some level there needs to be government reform; power sharing reducing the number of seats needed to form a government along with some type of workable decentralisation. It is interesting in 2016, a hundred years on from the 1916 rising, an election result has presented itself that calls for us to change again the way in which we govern ourselves.
Ireland has one of the fairest electoral systems in the form of Proportional Representation. Other systems such as first past the post helps keep those who are established in power. The United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) got almost four million votes in the 2015 UK election and yet only managed to secure one seat. Many TDs who were elected to the 32nd Dáil got through due to the transferral of votes under the PR system. All of the TDs in the Dáil have a duty to represent the call for change which was categorically handed to them by the electorate under this system. They must deliver government reform so they can do what they were elected to do which is represent the people.
This was the first election in Ireland that has transcended established party politics. We can argue why Fine Gael did so badly outside urban areas or why Fianna Fáil gained so many seats but this fundamentally misses the point. In general there has been a major shift away from the combination of the two main parties. Conversely, Sinn Féin is gaining support. Many see Sinn Féin as a legitimate alternative and as a protest against the austerity caused by the two main parties. The current system that requires 84 seats to form a majority government is suited to strong party politics. What this points to is governmental reform. We need a system in which every elected representative can have influence over what is presented and implemented by the Dáil.
It was the implementation of extremely divisive charges that has ultimately led to a shift away from large party politics. While the issue was somewhat played down in the run up to the last election; the governments unwillingness to recognise that people simply could not take any more austerity was for many a step too far. The people have categorically spoken out against being held to ransom by a strongly whipped government. Ordering your electorate to pay a charge they cannot afford, does not constitute democracy. Many protests against these charges were then judged to be breaking the law. New government reforms need to ensure that procedures are put in place where such dictatorial measures are never allowed to gain ground.
The results of the last election are a call to reason by the Irish people. This country does not want a government that acts like a fascist dictatorial state. There are of course those who still vote along old civil war party lines but this is changing. Old civil war politics and crony-ism has to be put to bed by all parties if we are to progress as a diversely functioning modern democracy.
The housing crisis and the way in which it is being managed is having a detrimental effect on the people of Ireland. We are going back to a time where landlords basically rule over their tenants. What is the point of having a freely elected government if we revert to a time when an oppressive foreign colonial power dictated policy? Once again it is getting to the point where rich landlords are being allowed to squeeze their tenants into poverty and submission. We need an all inclusive government, in which every elected representative gets to morally and honestly represent their constituents regardless of party or political leaning.
Terrorism is another huge issue facing this country in the wake of the Paris and Brussels attacks. European countries can’t afford to have bickering, infighting, unstable governments who are unable to make quick and necessary security decisions. What form our new government will take is still a matter for our politicians to decide. What is certain is they have a responsibility to implement real change in government selection and procedure. An agreement on the reform of the entire system must be reached that can facilitate the diversity of political scenarios that are bound to present themselves in the future.