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Single Transferable Vote -- Lessons from Ireland
Unformatted Document Text:  system of having a representative who represents a specific district remained attractive to the Anglo-Irish. By 1937 and the writing of the Bunreacht na hÉireann, which took Ireland away from its status as a dominion and established complete home rule, the system of single transferable vote had been in use in Ireland for more than a decade and a half. It is likely for this reason that the Single Transferable Vote was enshrined in constitution, and since 1937 a referendum is required to change it as the system of vote. Party Politics in Ireland In addition to a distinctive electoral system, Irish party politics is distinct from party politics in the rest of Europe, but interestingly seems to have some similarity with the party politics of the United States. This is because unlike most of Europe parties represent no distinctions of language, religion or ethnicity. Party politics, in other places in Europe are often deeply divided on these issues. Indeed, the existence of the Labour party does not lead to parties which show deep division on class. Peter Mair (1987: 43) notes that the Irish party system lacks social bias. This was seen in the first nationwide survey (done by gallup) in 1969, and seen even more so by 1987. In an index of class voting compiled in 1987, Mair notes that middle class voters are only two percent less likely to vote Labour than working class respondents, four percent more likely to vote Fine Gael and nine percent less likely to vote Fianna Fáil. What makes Irish political parties distinct is that they seem to lack any type of division, or any division which is prevalent in the rest of Europe. Mair (1987: 12) notes “Irish party politics is also quite singular in character, in that the initial alignment derived from a struggle over the extent to which the new state would sever its ties with the United Kingdom, and those 13

Authors: Adams, Roberta.
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system of having a representative who represents a specific district remained attractive to the 
By 1937 and the writing of the Bunreacht na hÉireann, which took Ireland away from its 
status as a dominion and established complete home rule, the system of single transferable vote 
had been in use in Ireland for more than a decade and a half.  It is likely for this reason that the 
Single Transferable Vote was enshrined in constitution, and since 1937 a referendum is required 
to change it as the system of vote.
Party Politics in Ireland
In addition to a distinctive electoral system, Irish party politics is distinct from party 
politics in the rest of Europe, but interestingly seems to have some similarity with the party 
politics of the United States.  This is because unlike most of Europe parties represent no 
distinctions of language, religion or ethnicity.  Party politics, in other places in Europe are often 
deeply divided on these issues.  Indeed, the existence of the Labour party does not lead to parties 
which show deep division on class.  Peter Mair (1987: 43) notes that the Irish party system lacks 
social bias.  This was seen in the first nationwide survey (done by gallup) in 1969, and seen even 
more so by 1987.  In an index of class voting compiled in 1987, Mair notes that middle class 
voters are only two percent less likely to vote Labour than working class respondents, four 
percent more likely to vote Fine Gael and nine percent less likely to vote Fianna Fáil. 
What makes Irish political parties distinct is that they seem to lack any type of division, 
or any division which is prevalent in the rest of Europe.  Mair (1987: 12) notes “Irish party 
politics is also quite singular in character, in that the initial alignment derived from a struggle 
over the extent to which the new state would sever its ties with the United Kingdom, and those 

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