Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Aperitif for the main course

CONGRATULATIONS to each and every TD who thinks they did well in the south of Ireland’s general election.

But, for political anoraks here the whole brouhaha was but an appertiser for the main course here in Norn Iron.

Heck, even the electorate in the south got it pretty easy – here voters will have to contest with two ballot papers and a referendum paper.

So that’s two, 1,2,3’s and a vote on 1,2,3’s that’s almost like our STV but is AV and is part way to PR.

If you’re a political anorak – or someone who pays attention when the news is on - all of that last paragraph will make sense.

For the other 98% of the population that translates as putting a ‘1’ on the ballot paper beside the one you want to be your assembly member and putting some other numbers by those who you don’t like but don’t hate as much as other people on the ballot paper. Some may call this tactical voting, but we didn’t come up the Lagan in a Bubble (for foreigners, or those from Bangor who got through passport control at Sydenham that means we in bountiful Belfast are not naive...).

Once you have decided who will be your MLA, you also get to choose who will be your councillor. Again you get to choose your favourite, then put numbers against those who aren’t quite favourite, those who are not too bad, and avoid those you don’t like at all. If this was any English shire or advanced state with real paved roads and running water such council elections would be fought on local issues, but this is Norn Iron...

As to the decision over whether we will get the proportional representation halfway house of the ‘Alternative Vote’ for Westminster, we will have to take a lie down in a darkened room before even thinking about that...

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