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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

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

Michael Gallagher (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

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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