by Martin Mooney
14 March 2016
As part of the Imagine! Festival of Ideas & Politics, Involve and the Building Change Trust co-hosted an event that examined the state of Northern Ireland’s democracy and the role of civil society within it, and asked whether there could be a more deliberative democracy here.
Paul Braithwaite of the Building Change Trust welcomed us to the Duncairn Centre, with a survey of widely-held sceptical attitudes about electoral politics here. For example, only 11% of respondents were satisfied with the performance of their MLA; 40% thought that the Assembly had achieved nothing at all.
But this was not just a local issue. Paul quoted one Indian commentator who argued that electoral politics has become ‘anti-democratic.’ And it was important to note that there were positives in the Northern Ireland electoral system, not least a form of proportional representation (PR) and a strong scrutiny role for Assembly committees.