Fianna Fáil has the support of one in five voters, if the latest Irish Times poll is to be believed. Labour are three points ahead of them, and Fine Gael lead the pack with 36%. Independents are supported by one in ten, Sinn Féin by one in twelve, and the Greens by only 3%, a margin of error from extinction.
Now look at the likely results in the European elections. The dead certs are Mitchell, de Rossa, Crowley, McGuinness, Aylward, the Cope, and (Jim) Higgins.
Let’s say the probables are Childers, Harkin, Mary Lou and the two Munster Kellys.
That gives us an MEP panel which is 33% Fine Gael, 25% Labour, 25% Labour, 8% Independent and 8% Sinn Féin.
It’s unlikely my predictions will bear out, since it’s unlikely that the polls will still be accurate by Friday. Some candidates benefit from last minute surges, some fall behind.
But almost certainly the final tally of MEPs will not match national support for the parties. for a simple reason: small three seaters favour large parties disproportionately.
It’s too late for this time, but perhaps John Gormley might consider fewer, larger constituencies for the next European election. Or maybe, just one.
A version of the party top-up list system (i.e. the German model) would be the Greens’ preferred option, and would – perhaps – facilitate some actual debate about the policies and voting records of the parties and their European groupings.
But the Late Late debate that followed Fintan O’Toole’s contribution on this subject a few weeks back was not encouraging from a reform point of view. We’d share the support of none of the main parties for this type of reform.
I think it’s in the power of the electoral commission that John Gormley has established to examine this, but, of course, we’d have to stay in government to see this through – which the other ‘progressive’ parties, who may support electoral reform, criticise us most for.
I heard John Gormley pitch the Green plan for a modified top-up voting system at a Meet The Bloggers event a few weeks back, and I’ve been meaning to write down my thoughts on it.
I don’t think it will work, at least not in the way he hopes.
Maybe I’ll put some thoughts together for tomorrow’s article.
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