Chapter

Ireland: Party Loyalists with a Personal Base

Michael Gallagher

in The Political Class in Advanced Democracies

Published in print December 2003 | ISBN: 9780199260362
Published online January 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780191601873 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0199260362.003.0010
 Ireland: Party Loyalists with a Personal Base

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The Irish political class is rather small, encompassing very few positions outside the group of elected national parliamentarians. Because of the distinctive electoral system with preferential voting (PR-STV), MPs have to combine elements of 'entrepreneurs' and 'backbenchers'. While electoral survival and career advancement depends on the party, which demands strict loyalty, the individual MP must also build a personal home base in the local party organization and among the voters in the district. The cumulation of local and national elected offices is common: local offices provide both an entry point into a political career as well as help to sustain visibility even after a rise to higher levels. Because of their limited resources, party organizations cannot provide any safe fallback-positions or alternative career paths.

Keywords: backbencher; electoral system; entrepreneur; Ireland; local office; party cohesion; political class

Chapter.  8012 words. 

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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