Speaking at the Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution today, which was debating the effect of Ireland's current electoral system on Irish society Sinn Féin’s representative Robbie Smyth said the current system is failing voters, candidates and those elected to the Dáil. Mr. Smyth said larger constituencies with more seats would result in a Dáil more which would be more representative of Irish society.
“The electoral system as it stands in the 26 Counties is failing voters and those elected to the Dáil. It is inhibiting participation both for voters and those who wish to stand for election. Voters are discouraged in many urban constituencies as their voting choices are rarely successful due to small constituency size and instead the Oireachtas is dominated by middle age middle class conservative males rather than a more representative cross section of adult society in Ireland today.
“The ongoing reduction in constituency size with increasing numbers of 3 and 4 seat constituencies is narrowing representation, meaning that women, young people, new political parties and the new Irish have their chance of achieving successful political entry and Oireachtas representation unfairly impeded by the electoral system as it is constituted today.
“Sinn Féin proposes increasing the minimum number of seats per constituency to six as is the case in the Assembly elections and where there is a higher correlation between seats won and overall vote share.
“The Proportional Representation – Single Transferable Vote (PR-STV) system, when originally rolled out, involved much larger constituencies than is the case today, with seven and nine seat constituencies used. Sinn Féin believes that a newly constituted boundary commission could re-establish larger constituencies resulting in an elected parliament and local authorities that are far more representative of Irish society than the current situation allows.
“We also believe that a list system should be considered as a long term choice to ensure a proportionate electoral system which encourages the most diverse representation.” ENDS