Page 6, 23rd March 1979

23rd March 1979
Page 6
Page 6, 23rd March 1979 — Political history of voting Ireland
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Political history of voting Ireland

Irish Elections, 1918-77: Parties, Voters and Proportional Representation by Cornelius O'Leary (Gill and Macmillan £2.70) This Is a scholarly study of parliamentary democracy in Ireland. It gives a complete account of all the general elections in the Irish Free State and the Republic of Irtland since Sinn Fein first won their republican landslide in 1918.

Dr O'Leary charts and analyses the campaigns, results and political consequences of each election so that the work becomes a concise political history of modern Ireland.

The important feature of the book is the explanation on the electoral system of proportional representation — a system which has long been advocated in Britain.

Dr O'Leary explains the reasons for the introduction of the proportional representation system in Ireland and he investigates how both people and the politicians have readjusted the system to suit the needs of the nation.

He analyses the system's effects on voting patterns, party behaviour and the actual election results. He also highlights the continuing controversy in Ireland over its merits and its defects.

I cannot quite agree with the publishers' claim that Dr O'Leary's account will appeal to the general reader no less than to the student of politics and modern Irish history.

Certainly, for the student of politics and history, this work is essential. For the first time, we are presented with a first-class analytical source book on Irish politics in the 26 counties.

And it should be given more than a cursory glance by those people who are not necessarily interested in Irish politics but who are interested in the proportional representation system and its workings.

Here is a country in which the system has been working, the book explains the system, and it could well be that we, In Britain, may learn some valuable lessons from it.

We have heard a great deal about PR in recent years. The Liberals have long advocated the system. But is it a workable one in a British context? Just what is it? Dr O'Leary's book is an essential addition to the library of anyone who Is concerned.

Peter Berresford Ellis




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