Ireland’s new Government of National Recovery, as the coalition consisting of Fine Gael and Labour is to be called, took office Wednesday.
The coalition agreement* begins,
On the 25th February a democratic revolution took place in Ireland. Old beliefs, traditions and expectations were blown away. The stroke of a pen, in thousands of polling stations, created this political whirlwind. The public demanded change and looked to parties that would deliver the change they sought.
Among the commitments regarding political reform is to abolish the second chamber (Seanad), subject to voter approval in a referendum (p.18).
A Constitutional Convention is to be established. It will consider several amendments, including reduction of the presidential term to five years “and aligning it with the local and European
Also included are plans to restrict campaign spending, consideration of lowering the voting age to 17, and working to increase the representation of women. “We will ask the Constitutional Convention, which is examining electoral reform, to make recommendations as to how the number of women in politics can be increased,” it says (p. 20). No guidelines about what sort of electoral reforms might be considered are given.
There are a series of proposed reforms dealing with legislative procedure, including more time for question periods, fewer committees but with constitutional recognition for key committees, and more opportunity for debating non-government bills (pp. 21-2).
* It can be downloaded at the Fine Gael party website.