What is the book about
In Reforming Political Institutions: Ireland in Comparative Perspective, John Coakley considers the case for reform of Irish political institutions in the light of economic collapse, political turmoil and external intervention in the management of the state. He makes some practical recommendations for the modernising and streamlining of systems of government.
The author examines five specific institutions of great importance to Irish political life, setting them in comparative and historical context and reviewing their current role. These include two prominent and well-known institutions, the Presidency and the Seanad, as well as the much-debated issue of the Dáil electoral system, and two largely ignored matters-the system of determining Dáil constituency boundaries, and the route to ministerial office whereby, almost uniquely, Ireland’s ministers are drawn entirely from parliament.
Warning of the dangers of ‘the reflex calls for revision that have become so prominent since the crisis of 2010’, John Coakley offers a timely, balanced and detailed assessment of the effects that might follow from changes to Ireland’s political institutions and constitution, and of the extent to which reform is likely to serve as an effective antidote to the country’s current ills.
Reforming Political Institutions will attract attention from academics and students in the fields of political science and comparative government, from commentators in the media, from politicians and administrators, and from the general reader with an interest in how Ireland might begin to create the conditions for political and institutional progress.
- Introduction: stability and change in Irish politics
Tracking economic decline
Assessing political crisis
Debating institutional reform
- A society transformed: economic change and cultural challenge
- The President: leader or figurehead?
Presidents: a comparative perspective
The office of President of Ireland
The exercise of presidential functions
Assessing the presidency
- The Seanad: reform or redundancy?
Bicameralism: a comparative perspective
Bicameralism in Ireland
The functioning of the Seanad
Assessing the Seanad
- The Dáil electoral system: democracy or efficiency?
Electoral systems: a comparative perspective
Irish elections and the electoral system
Simulating alternative electoral systems
Assessing the Irish electoral system
- Dáil constituencies: reapportionment or redistricting?
Constituency boundaries: a comparative perspective
Constituency boundaries in Ireland
Alternatives for Ireland
Assessing the constituency boundary revision system
- Government ministers: technocrats or parliamentarians?
Ministerial recruitment: a comparative perspective
State building and ministerial appointments in Ireland
The practice of ministerial selection in Ireland
Assessing the ministerial recruitment system
- Conclusion: a case for institutional reform?
Irish society in 2022
The Irish polity in 2022
Towards 2022: the prospects for institutional reform