There’s a better way to choose the Seanad.
In 1925, the Seanad was directly elected by all the people. There was a single nationwide constituency, covering the 26 counties. And since emigration is starting up again, many emigrants should have a vote too. The count would take a while, but that’s hardly a logistical problem beyond our ability. We manage large counts for the European elections, after all.
Second, decouple Dáil and Seanad elections. Give the Seanad a fixed term, and elect senators on the same day we choose local and European representatives. Would people be so angry that the current coalition clings to power in the face our public disapproval if they had the opportunity to elect a Seanad with opposing views, restoring balance to political debate?
Because senators wouldn’t represent specific constituencies, but were elected in a national poll, decoupling reduces the importance of local politics in their decision-making, and ensures a greater chance of senators with a national outlook. Sure, Kerry voters might still club together and send in a Healy Rae, but it would also allow interest groups too dispersed to elect a politician from an existing constituency to elect voices to put forward their views.
[Originally posted as a reply to Gav Reilly’s thoughts on Seanad reform]