Offerman Consulting
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Irish Social Democrats: openness and transparency to reform political system

Author: Adrian Offerman

The Irish Social Democrats have made open government one of their core issues. The party states that it wants to reform the political system, so that it serves the people rather than the political establishment. Developing a culture centred around openness and transparency is the first step in this process.

We want to introduce a culture of open decision-making, where public resources are allocated on the basis of need, the Social Democrats write on their website. Our system needs to embrace a culture of transparency and champion open data. Doing this leads to better outcomes and helps end politics for the 'Golden Circle'.

To accomplish this, they propose the following measures:

  • publishing evidence-based criteria for major resource allocation decisions;
  • abolishing the Official Secrets Act, replacing it with a modern approach;
  • legislating for disclosure of civil service advice to ministers;
  • ending the political appointment of judges;
  • monitoring stringently the impact of public sector programmes.

Furthermore, the party aims to reform the political institutions by empowering the Parliament. These are the measures that they propose to accomplish this:

  • establishing an Electoral Commission to act as a powerful watchdog on politics;
  • electing the Ceann Comhairle (the Chairman of the Irish Parliament) by secret ballot;
  • strengthening the committee system;
  • reducing the power of the whip (the party discipline);
  • abolishing the Economic Management Council;
  • establishing a forward-planning and implementation unit in the Department of Taoiseach (the Prime Minister's Department).

Although the proposed measures do relate to open government, they are very traditional. Missing is a vision on government innovation and modernisation using open data, e-government, freedom of information, and the role of civil society.