In light of the recent Constitutional Convention I was looking over MMP and its merits/demerits. I didn't see a thread on it but if there is already please merge... I think there are some merits in changing to this system as was recently done in New Zealand.
The premise of this system is that in a 166 seat Dail half the seats would be elected through a constituency as is the case now while the other half would be apportioned based on the percentage of national vote a party receives. A voter would cast a vote for a constituency representative and a vote for a party
I was thinking if we merged our two systems you could get over the pitfalls of MMP namely that it disadvantages smaller parties and independent members. I'll throw out my thoughts and please let me know what you think:
Lets look at the constituency representatives usually half of a parliament is comprised of these. There would be 83 seats up for grabs. One could either go 83 individual constituencies however I would prefer 14 six seater semi-regional constituencies across the country (which brings the number up to 84) where we maintain the PR-STV system which works very well. This would have a number of advantages. First it would maintain the current PRSTV system which is much more representative that 1st past the post. Large six seat constituencies would allow smaller parties/indos a chance and the semi regional constituencies may break the localism we get from small single seaters. The biggest issue is that a party may be able to vote manage and therefore get say three seats in a six seater even if the share of the vote does not reflect this however this may be correct by overhang seats apportioned through the list system
The list system would then attribute the remaining 82 seats based on the national support for each party which is given through the voters second ballot paper. I think the threshold should be 3% as it encourages and ensures a diversity of parties and opinions which 5% may exclude. I think the biggest issue with the list is the issue of dual candidacy and whether a person should be allowed to run as a constituency candidate and a list candidate ... personally i think they shouldn't as there is something odd about being refused by the people is a constituency of 6 but being promoted by the party therefore I would be against dual candidacy and the list should be fully disclosed before the election.
The issue of overhang seats mentioned above is based on the idea that a party shouldnt have more seats than their vote allows. There are a number of ways to deal with it: one can allow the overhang meaning that the party has a bonus. Treat the overhang seats as contributing to the overall number of list seats or compensate for the overhang by apportioning more seats to the other parties proportionately meaning a larger legislature in certain cases. My favoured option would be the middle one.
Anyway that is my opinion on reform. I think keeping the PR_STV for the elected reps would be favourable but over semi-regional constituencies as well as the list system would be a plus. While not relevant here I look forward to the Convention's discussion on non-TD ministers and cabinet/parliament separation.