Dan O’Brien: ‘Other countries don’t ask their citizens to vote on a figurehead president because it is not worth troubling them’

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Dan O’Brien: ‘Other countries don’t ask their citizens to vote on a figurehead president because it is not worth troubling them’


President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina at Dublin Castle as he was announced as the next president of Ireland. Photo: Damien Eagers/INM
President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina at Dublin Castle as he was announced as the next president of Ireland. Photo: Damien Eagers/INM

Last Friday’s presidential election and constitutional referendum have together consumed the attention of the political system, the media and those interested in political affairs over many weeks. More heat than light was generated. Is it time to consider doing what many other countries do on both votes?

If Ireland functioned as many of its peer democracies do, neither last week’s decision on who will be president for the next seven years nor the largely uncontroversial constitutional amendment would have gained much attention.

That is because figurehead presidents in many other democracies are elected by parliaments.

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