Article 4.2 of the Constitution says as follows:
Every candidate for election, not a former or retiring President, must be nominated either by:
i. not less than twenty persons, each of whom is at the time a member of one of the Houses of the Oireachtas, or
ii. by the Councils of not less than four administrative Counties (including County Boroughs) as defined by law.
Now, on the face of it, that seems reasonable enough, until you remember that members of the Oireachtas include senators, none of whom has been democratically elected. Some, such as those on the highly flawed Universities panel, can hold up some sort of fig-leaf, having been elected by graduates of the NUI or Trinity, but this in many ways only compounds the insult since graduates of the other third-level institutions have no vote. And in any case, why should the fact that you once managed to scrape a degree qualify you to vote for the Senate while your neighbour who worked hard all his life has no such right?
At least the county councillors (God help us!) were elected by some sort of democratic process, even if many of them can barely scratch an X on a rock with a sharpened flint, but let’s leave that to one side for now. Assuming the councils have about 25 members give or take a few, a majority on four councils is needed to nominate a candidate, and thus, about 50 elected councillors are equal to 20 Oireachtas members, some of whom have never stood for election of any sort. This is not making sense. Worse, it lacks dignity.
At least, to his credit, Sean Gallagher made an announcement once he’d got his four council nominations, that he didn’t need any more. Mary Davis, on the other hand, seems to think it’s a great idea to collect eight, nine, ten or even a dozen councils, just to be sure to be sure. What a visionary and inclusive president Mary promises to be.
Norris, meanwhile, was rebuffed by his Oireachtas colleagues, with Mattie McGrath deciding not to put his mark next to David’s name, after consulting an advisory body from the South Tipperary Ear-Hair Society. After doing a quick jig and a two-step, Mattie decided, despite everything he said previously, that Norris wasn’t getting his X. That leaves Norris traipsing around the remaining councils hunting for the odd undecided councillor. What? Is it that queer fella from above there in England? Or is it Dublin? Why the feck would I be votin for a feckin nancy-boy?
Now, it seems to me that there are many ways out of this conundrum.
You could argue that a points system is the answer. One Oireachtas member equals two councillors.
But somebody else might point out that some of those Oireachtas members are useless, time-serving gobshites who were never elected to anything, and this is a point you’d find difficult to dispute.
So how about setting them in order? One Dáil member is worth, for the sake of argument, 100 points. A councillor is worth, let’s say, 10 points. And a senator is worth nothing at all. Does that seem fair, considering the fact that the Senate is a waste of time and money? It seems reasonable to me anyway. But of course, you’re then confronted with the difficulty of dealing with the blindingly obvious: many Dáil members are also complete fucking idiots, so how could we give them 100 points?
The answer, of course, is that we can’t, so I have a suggestion I’d like to run by you.
How about if we just let people put themselves forward for the presidency and see who gets elected? Would that be a very hard thing to do?