Elaine Byrne: Politicians beware, tinkering with the electoral system is likely to backfire

Darragh O’Brien’s suggestion that by-elections should be replaced by a European substiture list model may make sense – but history shows that voters may not agree

The Standards in Public Office Commission reported that the 2021 Dublin Bay South by-election cost political parties almost a quarter of a million. Picture: PA

It is a brave government that attempts to introduce radical changes to our electoral system. Last week, the Minister for Housing and Local Government, Darragh O’Brien, asked the newly established Electoral Commission to consider whether by-elections should be scrapped. The alternative is to replace by-elections with a system like that used for European elections where an individual is co-opted from a list.

History has not rewarded those in power who seek to tinker with how ...