New website to assess manifestos

 

POLITICAL REFORM:A NEW website aims to put pressure on parties to take political reform seriously by marking their manifestos out of 100 in a range of categories.

Reformcard.com is an online scorecard that will mark the manifestos of the five main political parties, and also monitor the implementation and effectiveness of political reform by the incoming government.

The website went live yesterday but will only include the assessments once the party manifestos are published.

After the election the programme for government 2011 will be rated to assess the extent to which manifesto promises have been incorporated. The site will then monitor the implementation of reforms.

Each party’s manifesto will be rated in five key areas in the lead-in to the election: legislative; electoral; open government; local government; and the public sector. Each area will have five subsections.

The legislative area looks at Cabinet dominance, reform of the Dáil, reform of the Seanad, strengthening the committee system and empowering the opposition.

The evaluation will be by a panel of eight political scientists from five universities, and include Prof David Farrell UCD, Dr Eoin O’Malley and Prof Gary Murphy DCU, Dr Jane Suiter, Dr Theresa Reidy and Dr Clodagh Harris, UCC, Dr Elaine Byrne, TCD, and Matt Wall, University of Amsterdam.

Joint director and developer of the project Joe Curtin, an economist and climate change specialist, has based the grading system on a project he is involved with for the OECD to monitor pledges made by governments at the Copenhagen conference.

Questioned on the objectivity of the assessment, he said that on Seanad reform, for example, the panel would be “agnostic” about “whether the Seanad should be abolished or reformed”. It would focus on the key weaknesses in the system and assess parties’ plans to address them.

A comparative analysis will be made within two days after the manifesto launches.

The project will also offer the public the option after the election of voting on which area of reform should have priority.