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The system for electing TDs could be about to face a massive overhaul

The 100-member Constitutional Convention has voted to investigate “an entirely new electoral system” for picking TDs.

Ireland's system where voters have a single transferable vote could be set for a major overhaul.
Ireland's system where voters have a single transferable vote could be set for a major overhaul.
Image: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

IRELAND’S SYSTEM for electing members of the Dáil could face an unprecedented overhaul, following a decision by the Constitutional Convention today.

A majority of the 100-member convention has said that electoral reform might include not only changes to the existing system of proportional representation, where members are elected by a single transferable vote, but also an entirely new electoral system.

When asked what type of format they would like Irish elections to take, members heavily favoured the ‘mixed member’ system used in countries like Germany and New Zealand.

Those systems ask voters to cast two separate votes: one for a constituency representative, and a separate vote for a specific political party. The final composition of the parliament is then influenced by the second vote, while the identities of the TDs themselves are governed by the first.

This system was backed by 69 per cent of members, while a ‘proportional list system’ – where voters choose a party, and separately rank the party’s national candidates (or where the party itself ranks its candidates in order of preference) – was supported by 29 per cent of voters.

Only 3 per cent of participants said they would favour a British-style ‘first past the post’ model, where the candidate with the highest number of first-preference votes wins a seat.

A further investigation on the exact model that the Convention might recommend will be held next month.

The Convention’s deliberations will also take into account the current system of multi-TD constituencies, whether ministers should remain members of the Oireachtas, the possibility of compulsory voting, and the overall size of the Dáil.

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Gavan Reilly

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