Published on March 16, 2016

“A better way of being governed”: What is the state of democracy in Northern Ireland? – Northern Ireland Foundation

Civic activism

By Josephine Suherman-Bailey

Josephine is a Policy Analyst at Involve. She supports Involve's work on the UK Open Government Partnership civil society network and Sciencewise. She is especially interested in opening up decision-making to those who might otherwise struggle to be heard by policy-makers.

“A better way of being governed”: What is the state of democracy in Northern Ireland?

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.

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