Voting Matters in Ireland

Arriving back in civilization last night I discovered that my polling card for Friday’s voting has arrived at last along with instructions on the Referendum to be held alongside the Local Council Elections and the European Parliament Elections, all held on 24th May.

I’m looking forward to casting my ballot. It is a new experience for me to vote here in Ireland. Both elections are held under Proportional Representation (Single Transferable Vote) which seems to me a very sensible system. One ranks the candidates in order of preference with votes progressively reallocated as the lowest-ranked candidates are eliminated. You can rank all the candidates or just some. In the system employed here one ranks the candidates in order of preference with votes progressively reallocated in various rounds until one ends up with the top n candidates to fill the n available seats. Surplus votes from the top candidates as well as those of eliminated candidates are reallocated to lower-preference candidates in this process.

The Local Elections involve filling 40 seats on Kildare County Council, with five councillors representing Maynooth. The nine candidates are listed here, in case you’re interested.

For the European Parliament Elections things are a bit more complicated. For the purposes of the EU elections Ireland is divided into three constituencies: Dublin, Ireland South and Midlands North West. I am in the latter, which elects four MEPs. There are 17 candidates for this constituency, listed here.

As a relative newcomer to Ireland I first sorted the candidates into three groups: (i) those that I would be happy to see elected, (ii) those that I don’t really like but could tolerate, and (iii) those that I wouldn’t like to see representing me under any circumstances. There are plenty in the latter category. There seems to be a law in Ireland that there has to be at least one deranged simpleton on every ballot paper, and there are several in this election. I will choose my lower-preference votes to ensure that none of these dickheads, especially racist gobshite Peter Casey, benefit from my vote in any way.

Although the STV system seems very sensible to me, it does lead to a rather lengthy counting process – especially if everyone does what I plan to do, i.e. rank all the candidates instead of just their favourites.

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12 Responses to “Voting Matters in Ireland”

  1. Dark Energy Says:

    Not that complicated, the priority should go to the political party committed to reduce the price of Guinness.

  2. PR seemed like a great idea a decade or so ago when it meant more power for small parties on the left such as the Greens. The reality in Britain (and much of the West) today is that PR would mostly benefit small parties on the right such as UKIP and the Brexit Party. I don’t want these parties to gain more power so I’m afraid I can’t support PR.

    • telescoper Says:

      I share your hatred of the far-right, but to deny them representation is self-defeating. I think 20% of any country’s population is racist. Under PR they will get 20% of the vote and never be in power. In the UK they have much more power than that because the FPTP system means that the two main parties are chasing that 20% of the vote.

      The bigger problem with Britain is that its electoral safeguards are non-existent. The Brexit Party (which is not a political party but a commercial company) is a front for money-laundering on a massive scale and neither the Electoral Commission nor anyone else is willing or able to do anything about it. Regardless of whether you believe in PR or not, Britain is no longer a democracy. It has been bought and is being transformed as we watch into a fascist state.

      • “Britain is no longer a democracy. It has been bought and is being transformed as we watch into a fascist state.”

        Reminds me of a song:

        “Cutthroats, Crooks and Conmen”
        (by Steve Knightley)

        It’s Open Day at my old school
        I went along with a couple of friends
        And the money they raised
        Wasn’t for swimming pools
        Oh the money was for paper, books and pens

        There are cutthroats, crooks and conmen
        Running this jail
        Is there anything left in England
        That’s not for sale?

        Out on the playing fields
        Rows of houses stand
        Orange lights bleach out the dark
        When the nets came down
        They had to sell the land
        There’s a supermarket out in the park

        I see cutthroats, crooks and conmen
        Running this jail
        Is there anywhere left in England
        That’s not for sale?

        But in whose name was laid that curse
        Fix the price and hide the worth from public eyes
        Our mines, phones, water, health
        And everything else we used to own
        It’s on the shelf in England
        And it’s up for sale

        I see worn out trains on rusting track
        Left behind from the days of steel
        It’s too late now, we can never go back
        Seems like sometimes we’ve sold the dreams
        To those cutthroats crooks and conmen running this jail

        Is there anything left in England
        Or anywhere left in England
        Or anyone left in England
        That’s not for sale?

        Anyone? Anywhere?
        It’s going Oh it’s going
        You know it’s going. Oh it’s going,
        You know it’s going,..going…going
        It’ll be too late when it’s gone

      • “I share your hatred of the far-right, but to deny them representation is self-defeating. I think 20% of any country’s population is racist. Under PR they will get 20% of the vote and never be in power. In the UK they have much more power than that because the FPTP system means that the two main parties are chasing that 20% of the vote”

        Indeed. Another problem in denying representation is that someone else can use the same argument against you.

        The real advantage of PR (which doesn’t have to go along with STV) is that a party with x% of the votes gets x% of the seats in parliament. Calling any other system democratic is playing with words.

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        My concern with PR is that you vote for a party rather than a person.

        But it is grand fun using Arrow’s and Gibbard’s theorems to show the absurdity in *any* voting system!

      • telescoper Says:

        What you say is true of the d’Hondt system, in which party has a list of names but the names do not appear on the ballot paper.

        In the STV system operated in Ireland the ballot paper lists every candidate by name. Some parties have more than one candidate but there are also lots of Independent candidates (of varying degrees of craziness).

      • “My concern with PR is that you vote for a party rather than a person.”

        Some people see that as an advantage, of course.

        However, there is more than one type of PR. In some cases, the party has a list of candidates, and the first x get in. In others, one can rank the candidates. In some places, parties can choose whether they want voters to rank the candidates or not.

      • “But it is grand fun using Arrow’s and Gibbard’s theorems to show the absurdity in *any* voting system!”

        Even if no system is entirely fair (for appropriate definitions of “system” and “fair”), one can’t conclude that all are equally unfair.

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        It would be an interesting exercise to define a measure of fairness in order to make comparison…

    • By the same argument, you should support a dictator who is closer to your own ideas than the parties which would be elected democratically.

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