I await with eager anticipation the amendment to the new quota system for candidate selection that imposes a limit on family members of politicians being candidates in elections. There is a significant under representation in the candidate line up at general and local election time of people who are not related by blood or marriage to sitting or previous members of our local authorities or the Oireachtas. This much under represented group who are known at times as ‘the people’ or ‘the electorate’ have much to contribute to political life and surely they must have many insights into what it must be like to live as someone without the ability to whisper in the ear of a minister or to have direct input into party policy by virtue of sharing the dinner table with an Oireachtas member.
Modern party political activity affords the ordinary party member no input to nor oversight of party policy. Members do not vote on party policy, they do not get to contribute to what it is and what it is not. So why would someone unaligned to a sitting representative be inclined join a political party in the first place. These people, or ‘citizens’ are they are sometimes called, find much of what passes for party politics a turnoff with its strong allegiance to whoever is the current big cheese in the local organisation. Change that and we might just find many of those men and more so women who currently decide to remain outside of party politics would be more interested in becoming involved.