Gavan Reilly

thinking out loud

Seanad reform: Fixed terms?

without comments

Chatting to a friend this morning about the general laying of the political land – including that story about the Donegal County Council annual budget* – we ended up on the thorny issue of parliamentary reform and stumbled across the idea that while a fixed-term parliament (à la the United States) might not be a perfect system, the possibility of having one of two houses sit in fixed terms while the other sit to a maximum length was floated briefly.

In Ireland this would mean that while the Dáil would still sit to its maximum five-year term and be dissolved whenever necessary, while the Seanad would have a fixed term – it was suggested four years, so as to avoid the chance that it might end up running almost perfectly parallel to the Dáil and to stop it becoming as anonymous as the European Parliament (not of course that the Seanad is more relevant than EuroParl currently is).

It struck me as being a pretty good idea – instead of having the American system where either house could be swung by a single election, when polling for either house came around we’d have a fair bit of jostling to win public support. While the Seanad’s current inability to stop most Bills from passing outright would likely not be moved, surely we’d be a step farther away from the us-versus-you attitude that destroys so many parliaments?

What do you think – as part of a greater Seanad reform, wouldn’t a fixed term independent of all other bodies (the Dáil, local councils, the European Parliament) be a good idea?

* As an aside, if FF are part of an alliance in Donegal County Council that can elect a Mayor, why did they need to rush through a Budget vote when presumably their alliance was going to win it?

Written by Gav

January 4th, 2010 at 3:55 pm

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