Various voting system reforms have been suggested to lessen the effects of "parish pump politics" in Ireland, e.g. a list system, larger PR constituencies, or even a single national constituency. But recently there was a rather novel suggestion on the politicalreform.ie website (see the post Do we need geographical constituencies? ).
The basic idea is that all connection between constituencies and geographical location is severed. Each citizen on reaching voting age is randomly assigned to a constituency, an assignment which lasts for life. It would be no problem keeping the current system of up to 5-seat PR constituencies. But instead of having 40 or so geographically based constituencies, we would have a similar number of constituencies whose electors are randomly selected from the population at large.
This means that the electorate for any given constituency would be randomly distributed and scattered throughout the entire voting population. So it becomes impossible to regionally buy an electorate by building a school or road in the locality. A prospective TD is going to have to be much more national in his outlook. The voting dynamics would probably be quite similar to our current system, there would likely be incumbent TDs for each seat and a similar distribution of parties. Whereas the voting dynamics of having a single national constituency could be quite different.
There's also the possibility of weakening dynastic politics. If a person was restricted to going for election to the Dáil only in the constituency to which they belonged (i.e. were randomly assigned to upon reaching voting age), then it's likely the children of TDs would be assigned to different constituencies to their parent, hence would have to face an entirely different electorate if they went for election themselves.
Of course there are lots of problems with this suggestion. The logistics could be very difficult. It would be possible to produce electoral lists for the constituencies but how would one canvas to such a scattered electorate? Building political constituency organizations would also be a nightmare. And would one have to travel across half the country if one wants to consult with one's TD? Maybe increasing use of the internet would help with such things. Maybe a system that might become more possible in the future. And if one has a genuinely local issue such a system isn't going to be of much help.
Have my doubts if people would really be prepared to give up having a local representative. There are advantages in local representation after all. But thought there was definitely *something* to this idea. Certainly a completely different angle on tackling political localism that hadn't even occurred to me before.