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It works in Switzerland. March 29, 2013

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Uncategorized.

Labour were the big losers in Meath East (and more on that and the Left later on), Direct Democracy Ireland will probably be the happiest of all the parties. The party, which registered last year was able to have a brand on the ballot paper and appear as the ‘New Party’ that many (or at least the media) have been hoping for. By its very nature Direct Democracy appeals to all views. Its the ultimate catch all. The number of candidates in the By-Election probably also suited them in that Ben Gilroy had limited airtime for various appealing soundbites but the whole concept of what Direct Democracy is, wasn’t really explored.

As an unregistered party Direct Democracy Ireland fielded three candidates in the 2011 General Election (Another Jane Murphy of the Christian Solidarity Party also carried the direct democracy logo and website url)
Paul Clarke Dublin North central  – 311 votes (0.85%)
Gerry Kelly in Dublin South Central – 137 (0.27%)
Raymond Whitehead – Dublin South 120 (0.17%)

So without the oxygen of publicity that was available from the By-Election campaign they didn’t fare too well.

Gilroy was able to play the outsider well, had a fairly well financed campaign and the advantage of Direct Democracy is that you dont actually have to have any policies, you can be all things to all people.
We’ll take it back to votes in Kells, Dunboyne, Ashbourne and so on and you, those that elected me can vote on what way we should be voting in various Dail bills…. or how do I know you voted for me?… or is it DDI members only that get a vote? … or can anyone turn up and vote? …”do you have to be a constituent?” …” can I vote at all three meetings?” … “It works in Switzerland”

From the Direct Democracy Site

What is direct democracy?

Direct democracy is a form of democracy in which the people have the right to:

1. Select their own candidates to represent them.
2. Call a referendum on any topic if a sufficient number of people deem it necessary, by gathering a set number of signatures.
3. Create legislation and put it to a referendum if a sufficient number of people agree with it, by gathering a set number of signatures.
4. Recall, remove from office, any representative deemed to have acted in breach of their terms of employment.

On the percentage Gilroy got, there’s certainly a few Council seats to be had in 2014 and also its likely that their candidates will feature more prominently in media and other outlets. The By-Election has also given them a recognised profile and no doubt we’ll be seeing Gilroy as a guest on Vincent Browne, RTE and the like. (He might even be given his own show on Newstalk 🙂 )


1. Paddy Healy - March 29, 2013

Less than one in six of the electorate in Meath East voted for the winning candidate. Higher percentages are based on the total valid poll. Over 3,200 of voters did not transfer to the remaining Fianna Fail and Fine Gael candidates. This resulted in the winning candidate not reaching the quota.
The statement that over 70% of the electorate voted for the austerity parties is clearly incorrect. The real winner was “a plague on all your houses” and the biggest loser was of course the Labour Party. The absence of a candidate representing forces to the left of the labour party was disappointing. This may have made a small contribution to the abstention rate of 62%.

Core vote % of Electorate
Did not Vote 62%
FG 14.6%
FF 12.5%
SF 4.9%
Lab 1.7%
Others 4.2%

Extrapolation of Meat East Result to National Level
If the relationship between the party votes in the Meath East constituency and the national party votes in the 2011 general election were retained in a general election held to-day the national outcome would have been FG 33.9%, FF 29.2%, Lab 4.15%, SF 14.5%, others 19.7%
Extrapolation of Meath East Result to Equivalent General Election Outcome

Meath East 2011 General Election 2011 Multiplication Factor
FG 40.87% 36 0.881
LAB 21.04% 19.4 0.922
FF 19.61% 17.4 0.887
SF 8.88% 9.9 1.115
Others 9.61% 17.2 1.790

USING the same multiplication factors as above for each party
Meath East Bye-Election 2013 Equivalent General Election Out come
FG 38.5% 33.9%
FF 32.9% 29.2%
Lab 4.5% 4.15%
SF 13.0% 14.5%
Others 11.0% 19.7%


CL - March 29, 2013

So 70% if the Meath East electorate did not vote for the austerity parties. But its unclear what it would take to mobilize this disaffection.
“The absence of a candidate representing forces to the left of the labour party was disappointing. ?-Seamus McDonagh of the WP is surely to the left of the Labour Party.


2. EWI - March 29, 2013

They have a very good point on the fact that your TDs are pretty much selected for you by the big three or four, and it’s very difficult for someone outside the party system – who may be no better a worse a candidate than the choices of the big parties – to get elected.


LeftAtTheCross - March 29, 2013

But EWI it’s not the quality of the individual candidates that’s necessarily a problem with the existing political system, it’s the ideology of the dominant parties and the parliamentary whip system, which ensure that the individual TDs have no real role to play in the actual decision making, which occurs at cabinet level. Certainly there are fine rhetorical performances from some TDs, but the power is exercised elsewhere.


EWI - March 29, 2013

There is that too, and I concede that some very unpromising politicians down through history have turned out much better than you might have expected (look at FDR).

But the reality is that in most parties the party machine safe-pick is by this stage nearly the guaranteed candidate – which leads to ranks of yes-men in the parliamentary parties. And you’re never going to reform the whip system from that base without some ingenious strategy and a lot of luck (luck is underestimated, I think).


3. After Meath East | The Cedar Lounge Revolution - March 29, 2013

[…] Healy makes some useful points here, not least that the turnout was abysmal, and weather and other factors no doubt played their part […]


4. Cass Flower (@cassflower) - April 2, 2013

All things to all people has a bad track record in politics. Some discussion on Gilroy and DDI, including his prolife stance, apparently Freemen approach to law, and appearance on Sean Quinn supporters platforms going on on PW. http://www.politicalworld.org/showthread.php?13908-Direct-Democracy-Ireland&p=318745#post318745


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