Welcome to Scribd, the world's digital library. Read, publish, and share books and documents. See more
Standard view
Full view
of .
Look up keyword
Like this
1Activity
0 of .
Results for:
No results containing your search query
P. 1
‘Going about persecuting civil servants’: if this is still a good characterization of the role of Irish legislators, should we be worried?

‘Going about persecuting civil servants’: if this is still a good characterization of the role of Irish legislators, should we be worried?

Ratings: (0)|Views: 5|Likes:
An essay for the 2011 Undergraduate Awards Competition by Julianne Pigott. Originally submitted for Irish Politics & Policy at University College Dublin, with lecturer Dr. Niamh Hardiman in the category of International Relations & Politics
An essay for the 2011 Undergraduate Awards Competition by Julianne Pigott. Originally submitted for Irish Politics & Policy at University College Dublin, with lecturer Dr. Niamh Hardiman in the category of International Relations & Politics

More info:

Published by: Undergraduate Awards on Aug 29, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

Availability:

Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
See more
See less

05/13/2014

 
‘Going about persecuting civil servants’: if this is still a good characterization of the role of Irish legislators, should we be worried?
A single keystroke dispatched over two thousand text messages, directly from my laptop tothe mobile phones of constituents in Longford-Westmeath, on May 24
th
2007, polling day in thegeneral election; a canvassing technique repeated across the country that morning (Damovo,Millward Brown IMS Survey). The recipients of the unsolicited messages were not party membersor even affirmed supporters of the candidate who sought their first preference vote, but they shareda single common characteristic. They had each contacted the candidate to make a ‘representation’on their behalf, over the previous number of months. There is no way of knowing how many other  politicians’ offices they had visited with their request, or indeed how many parties had been promised a ‘scratch’ but the accepted logic of a competitive electoral system means that every ‘rep’completed is treated as a potential vote by the ‘professional paranoids’ (Gallagher & Komito, 2005:253). Two thousand may seem an insignificant number but considered in context the implications become apparent; two thousand from an electorate of eighty-four thousand represents a two per cent share, the candidate only began digitising his database of constituency information three weeks before the election, and the text message was neither the first nor last salvo in the marketingstrategy directed at that segment of the electorate (www.electionsireland.org). Why, almost half acentury on from Chubb’s seminal article, are national politicians still so heavily invested inconstituency service as an electoral strategy?The initial section of this essay will focus on an evaluation of Chubb’s core thesis; that TDsare compelled to invest a disproportionate amount of their time and resources in fulfilling the‘welfare officeror ‘local promoter’ roles at the expense of their constitutionally mandated parliamentary and legislative duties (Chubb, 1963: 275 & Gallagher 2005: 242). Chubb’s argumentthat this behavioural paradigm is a consequence of the prevailing electoral system and a lingering1
 
legacy of colonialism will be interrogated. The subsequent section will investigate the continued prevalence of this model, by adducing evidence from political events of the last decade, andconsidering the current body of opinion, academic and popular. It is posited that thecharacterisation of the archetypal politician as broker is anchored in cultural and institutional normsin Ireland and must be acknowledged as potentially deleterious to public confidence in the state.The final section of the essay will provide some tentative recommendations intended to effectdesirable changes in the body politic and administrative apparatus of the state.There are elements of Chubb’s approach to this topic which undeniably archaize hisanalysis; the ‘shrewd peasant farmer’ has been superseded by the professionally employed urbandweller as the ubiquitous personification of the Irish voter but some utility may be derived from his position (Chubb, 1963: 273 & Coakley, 2005: 41). Chubb characterises the Irish politician as‘adviser, contact man, expediter, and intercessor’ forever engaged in delivering public goods to hisconstituents, whether legitimately or by slight of hand (Chubb, 1963: 276). He attributes the‘preoccupation of deputies’ with ‘personal and local matters’ to PR-STV, the persistent miasma of mistrust arising from the ‘oligarchic rule of an alien government’ and the continued expectationfrom electors that ‘their man’ will deliver (Chubb, 1963: 273, 276). In Chubb’s, and later Garvin’sestimation, Ireland’s ‘idiosyncratic electoral system’ generates a degree of inter and intra partycompetition in extremely constrained geographic constituencies, which virtually guarantees the perpetuation of a cycle of ‘political elites unusually vulnerable to influence’ and ‘populist’ in their approach, in response to voter expectations (Garvin, 1991: 44 & Chubb, 1963: 273). While moremodern scholarship focuses more substantively on the ‘imputed’ damage to ‘loftier parliamentaryfunctions’, Chubb, and his successor in this partially exculpatory analysis, Farrell, are less inclinedto condemn the institutional and cultural consequences of this model, reserving the majority of their opprobrium for the health of electoral competition, when assiduous cultivators of the constituencyservice mandate can rely on their personal ‘electoral fief’ almost indefinitely (Chubb, 1963: 285,2
 
283 & Farrell, 1985: 260). Dramatic social and political developments have swept the nation in thefifty years since Chubb committed his assessment to paper, so one might reasonably expect that, asIreland transitioned from a traditional, essentially insular, polity to a state defined by complexinternational and regional economic and political transactions, that an accompanying decline in the persecution of civil servants on behalf of constituents might be attested to. Such expectations fallsomewhat wide of the mark, as will be considered next.The volume of academic literature and media editorials devoted to a consideration of the‘clientelist’ nature of Irish political life, affirms that at the very least, as a society we remainconcerned about the intimacy of the connections between political actors and electors; hardlysurprising given the extent of public corruption evidenced in recent decades ( Collins & O’ Shea,2003: 89). In the absence of persuasive qualitative or quantitative evidence, much of the debatecentres on general impressions, anecdotes, outlier cases, and the ever present spectre of the notional‘stroke’ puller in Irish life. The paucity of social scientific inquiry is an impediment but substantialevidence exists to suggest that Chubb’s characterisation remains valid and that the implications for the health of political and administrative institutions of the state are manifold. The last serious studyundertaken, albeit anthropological rather than quantitative, by Komito between 1978 and 1981 provides some valuable data on the nature of the relationship between the representative and the public (Komito, 1984: 173). The research reveals that rather than establishing permanent clientelesof voters, TDs are engaged in brokerage, a temporary arrangement with no guarantees of ‘enduring’electoral advantage (Komito, 1984: 174). Redefining the paradigm, allows him conceptualise therelations between politician as less anchored in the norms of a ‘traditional’ or archaic politicalorder, as Chubb opined, and more reliant upon the rational choices of both actors in the transaction(Komito, 1984: 175, 176, 177). Essentially, the argument herein is that evolution
beyond 
a model of  public goods provision predicated, at least in part, on personal relationships is not created by social progress, as the
original rationale
for direct contact, may persist. A further quarter century has3

You're Reading a Free Preview

Download
scribd
/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->