Carrowdun Palace, Spálgleann
The Comhthionól Náisiúnta (literally "National Assembly") was the lower house of the bicameral Tionól of Caldia from 1857 until 2021. It was also the principal chamber. During the bicameral period, the upper house was the Seanad Glaíteann (literally "Senate of Caldia").
The chamber's powers were similar to those of lower houses under many other bicameral parliamentary systems. It became the dominant chamber of the Tionól starting in 1965. It had the power to pass any law it wishes. It was also responsible for nominating nominate and removing the taoiseach, who had to belong to the chamber.
It had 399 members who were directly elected every five years. 200 of its members were elected from multi-member constituencies and the remaining 199 members were elected using a party list proportional method.
Origins and history
The Comhthionól was established by the Instrument for Governance Act of 1857, the first major amendment to the 1814 constitution. The legislation came from a movement known as the Silent Revolution, which sought to reform Caldish politics and liberalize society. The need for reforms was identified by Dónall Ó Conaill and his liberal allies, who worried about a popular uprising following similar revolts in Euclea.
The chamber was composed of 400 elected members, who were known as Teachti Comhthionól (TCs). TCs were to be elected from constituencies across the nation under a first-past-the-post system. Two TCs were chosen for each electoral district, with the two candidates receiving the most votes by plurality winning the seat. From its creation in 1857 until 1965, it had the same powers as the Seanad Glaíteann. The chamber had less control over legislation due to the status of the Comhthionól, but did have say over the budget. If the two chambers were in disagreement, issues had to be re-addressed through the submission of a new joint proposal. These proposals were facilitated by standing committees consisting of members from both chambers
In 1965, the number of TCs was reduced from 400 to 399 in order to end the practice of drawing lots when a vote in the chamber ended in a deadlock. The Comhthionól also became the principal chamber as the powers of the Seanad were significantly reduced through the Instrument for Governance of 1965.
Under the Instrument for Governance of 2021, the chamber was technically abolished but functionally became the unicameral Tionól. The chamber's rules, procedures, members, and officers carried over.
The Comhthionól Náisiúnta had 399 members.The number has occasionally been changed. The chamber originally had 400 members but that number was reduced to 399 in 1965 to end the practice of the "lottery Comhthionól". A member of the Comhthionól was known as a Teachta Comhthionól (TC) or a or a Deputy of the Assembly. At the time of its abolition, membership of the Comhthionól was open to Caldish citizens who are 18 or older. Originally, this membership was open to those 25 years or older.
Members were directly elected at least once every five years by the electorate of Caldia under a mixed-member proportional representation system. Its 399 seats were divided into 200 multi-member constituencies and 199 seats that were allocated based on a party's vote share using an open list. Parties needed to pass a threshold of 2.5% to qualify to win list seats. There were XX multi-member constituencies. Each consistency had between three and five members. Members were elected using a version of single-transferable vote known as the Ní Dochartaigh method. Under this process, voters rank candidates by first and second preference. Unlike other methods of single transferable vote, they can only rank candidates in this order and cannot transfer their vote to more than one additional candidate.
As of 2021, Comhthionól electorate consisted of Caldish citizens, EC citizens living in Caldia, and residents over 18 years of age who are registered to vote in Caldia. Under the Constitution of Caldia a general election for Comhthionól Náisiúnta must occur once in every five years. The taoiseach was able to make a request to the monarch to effectively dissolve the Comhthionól at any time, meaning a general election had to occur within sixty days. The Monarch had the constitutional authority to refuse to dissolve the Comhthionól, and ask the Comhthionól to form an alternative government without a general election taking place. The Comhthionól could also pass a motion of no-confidence in the government, triggering a snap election within sixty days.
The chairman, or presiding member, of Comhthionól Náisiúnta is the Ceann Comhairle. The Ceann Comhairle is chosen from among TCs but is expected to observe strict impartiality. Despite this, the government will usually try to select one of its own for the position, if its numbers allow. To protect the neutrality of the chair, an incumbent Ceann Comhairle does not seek re-election as a TC but rather is deemed automatically to have been re-elected by their constituency at a general election, unless they are retiring. The Ceann Comhairle does not vote except in the event of a tie. The last Ceann Comhairle was Proinnsias Ó Loingsigh, who held the office from 2019 until 2021.