From listening to people discussing the Seanad Referendum, there is certainly anecdotal evidence out there that suggests the electorate would have preferred the government to have given a third choice of ‘reform’ of the Seanad instead of the stark ‘yes/no’ being put before them.
My own instinct is that we should not do away with a layer of democracy and a constitutional platform for free speech but, that said, I find it hard to support or have sympathy for a Seanad that is so extremely elitist.
One can talk about the money it costs in its entirety but, actually, the main criticism I am hearing is that the Seanad cynically excludes the vast majority of this country’s citizens from having a say in its composition.
After World War II, Winston Churchill made a speech in which he said: “Many forms of government have been tried and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”
In other words, we should be careful what we tinker with and, for a great many people in this country at this time, the jury is still out as far as the referendum is concerned. Their votes are still there to be won or lost.