By Jason FitzHarris
Published July 18th 2003 in Irish Examiner
THE Boundary Commission on changes to the European parliamentary constituencies is going to have a difficult job trying to draw boundaries that will make sense.
This problem has occurred firstly because Ireland will lose two MEPs to allow for enlargement and, secondly, the Irish population has increased dramatically and migrated from the west to the east since the last election in 1999.
In the future our population is likely to continue increasing and migrating, and Ireland will lose another couple of MEPs in the next rounds of enlargement to include
Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey and the rest of the Balkans.
Article I-9 of the draft European constitution mandates the European council to approve a formula for the distribution of MEP seats prior to the election in 2009 this may or may not result in Ireland losing another MEP or two.
Consequently future boundary commissions will have to try to find some sort of rational method of distributing a handful of representatives across four constituencies.
So why can't we have a permanent solution by creating a national constituency? This would remove the need for the Boundary Commission spending months poring over maps and census returns trying to draw boundaries that will, in the end, please nobody.
A national constituency would allow voters to select from candidates across the country instead of being stuck with their local selection.
A national constituency would remove the worry that MEPs have about their electoral base being eroded and split up; it would also mean that each MEP would have a national mandate to represent the interests of the entire Irish nation instead of just a province.
Under proportional representation the larger the constituency the more representative and proportional the outcome, so a national constituency would result in the composition of the Irish MEPs being more proportionally accurate.
Finally, a national constituency would bring a little variety to the Irish electorate and variety, after all, is good for politics and democracy.
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