Green Candidate welcomes election spend curb

Green Party Election candidate for the Castleconnell Electoral Area, Trish Forde-Brennan, today welcomed Minister’s Gormley’s approved drafting of a Bill limiting spending on June’s Local Election.” As someone who has always been uneasy about the large sums of money spent by some candidates and political parties in the run-up to elections, I believe that curbing spending is both good for democracy and is necessary in the present economic circumstances.The changes will be significant in terms of monies spent and importantly, the spend period to be declared.This will be the first time a spending limit will apply to Local Elections and it is proof that government is serious about electoral reform. From now on County and City Councils will have a sliding scale of limits based on population numbers.Limits will apply to individual candidates but where a candidate is nominated by a political party, he or she, will be ” deemed to automatically allocate 10% of their limit for use by the party’s National Agent.” There will be scope to vary this figure by written agreement. There will not be however,any additional administrative burden placed on candidates as the legislation will build on the existing requirements for candidates to declare their spending to the local authority. Significantly,the declared time of spending will be 60 days instead of the previous 3 to 4 weeks.It is a good step forward.

“For those of us running in the Castleconnell Electoral Area our effective limit will now be 13,500 euros if we are affiliated to a political party.Otherwise, the limit will be 15,000 euros. Some people have criticised Minister Gormley and government for not having published a Bill dealing with reform of the electoral system before now.There are many who believe comprehensive reform is not alone necessary but critical. But, it should be remembered that the law in the area is both complex and extensive with over 20 seperate Acts of the Oireactas dealing directly and solely with electoral matters. Minister Gormley is now publishing the report from a commissioned team of academics from UCD charged with identifying how an Independent Electoral Commission can be delivered. Included will be recommendations on the modernisation and consolidation of legislation required to establish the Electoral Commission. Public Consultation will be received until Friday, 26 th June 2009 and I URGE anyone who has an opinion on how to improve our electoral system and make it more accessible to participate in this process.