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The Political Class in Advanced DemocraciesA Comparative Handbook$
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Jens Borchert and Jürgen Zeiss

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780199260362

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2005

DOI: 10.1093/0199260362.001.0001

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Ireland: Party Loyalists with a Personal Base

Ireland: Party Loyalists with a Personal Base

Chapter:
(p.187) 10 Ireland: Party Loyalists with a Personal Base
Source:
The Political Class in Advanced Democracies
Author(s):

Michael Gallagher (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0199260362.003.0010

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

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