Comhthionól Náisiúnta

Comhthionól Náisiúnta
33rd Comhthionól
Coat of arms or logo
Type
Type
Lower House
of the Tionól
Leadership
Structure
Seats399
Comhthionól Composition.png
Political groups
Government (218)

Opposition (181)

Length of term
5 years
Elections
single transferable vote
Last election
18 February 2019
Next election
12 June 2022
Meeting place
Plenisalen.jpg
Comhthionól Chamber
Carrowdun Palace, Spálgleann
Website
tionól.gl/comhthionól

Comhthionól Náisiúnta (National Assembly) is the lower house, and principal chamber, of the Tionól, which also includes the Seanad Glítteann (the upper house). It is directly elected at least once every five years under the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote (STV). Its powers are similar to those of lower houses under many other bicameral parliamentary systems and it is by far the dominant branch of the Tionól. Subject to the limits imposed by the Constitution of Caldia, it has power to pass any law it wishes, and to nominate and remove the Taoiseach (head of government). Since it's establishment in 1857, it has met in Carrowdun Palace in Spálgleann.

Title

In Ghaillish the name Comhthionól Náisiúnta literally translates to National Assembly. It is frequently referred to as simply the Comhthionól. A member of the chamber is known as a Teachta Comhthionól (TC), or a Deputy of the Assembly.

Composition

Comhthionól Náisiúnta has 399 members; the number has occasionally been changed within the limits of the Constitution of Caldia, which sets a minimum ratio of one member per 20,000 of the population, and a maximum of one per 30,000. Under current legislation, members are directly elected at least once in every five years by the electorate of Caldia under a system of proportional representation known as the single transferable vote; the constitutional maximum for a Dáil term is seven years. Membership of the Comhthionól is open to Caldish citizens who are 18 or older. A member of the Comhthionól is known as a Teachta Comhthionól (TC).

The Comhthionól electorate consists of Caldish citizens 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 seven years, but a five-year limit is currently specified by statute. The Taoiseach (head of government) can, by making a request to the Monarch, effectively dissolve the Comhthionól at any time, in which case a general election must occur within thirty days. The Monarch may refuse to dissolve the Comhthionól, and ask the Comhthionól to form an alternative government without a general election taking place.

The STV electoral system broadly produces proportional representation in the Comhthionól. The small size of many og the constituencies, however, usually gives a small advantage to the larger parties and under-represents smaller parties. Since the 1990s the norm has been coalition governments. Prior to 1989, however, one-party governments by the major parties were common. The multi-seat constituencies required by STV mean that candidates must often compete for election with others from the same party. This increases voter choice but is accused by some of producing TCs who are excessively parochial.

Currently every constituency elects between three and seven TCs. The constitution specifies that no constituency may return fewer than three TCs but does not specify any upper limit to constituency magnitude. The constitution requires that constituency boundaries be reviewed at least once in every twelve years, so that boundaries may be redrawn to accommodate changes in population. Boundary changes are currently drafted by an independent commission, and its recommendations are usually followed. Malapportionment is forbidden by the constitution. Under the Constitution, the commission is required to refer to the most recent Census of Caldia when considering boundary changes.

Layout

The Comhthionól chamber has confrontational benches but the end segment is curved to create a partial hemicycle. If the left wing in power, the government is seated to the immediate left of the Ceann Comhairle's. If the right wing is in power, the government is seated to his or her immediate right. The largest opposition party, which forms HM's Most Loyal Opposition, is traditionally seated directly across from the government. This means that parties in government and opposition are not seated by their ideology on the same spectrum that the rest of the parties are. However, their ideology determines which side of the Ceann Comhairle they are seated on.

Parties that are not in government or formal opposition are seated based on their official ideology from left wing to right wing in between the government and opposition.

Coinbhinsiúin

The Coinbhinsiúin (conventions) are a sub grouping of TCs with shared affinities or ethnicities who convene, often but not always to advocate, agitate, lobby or to vote collectively, on policy. Members of the Comhthionól group themselves into a coinbhinsiún (convention). Parties organise themselves into a coinbhinsiún. For example, the Social Democrats are organised as the Comhthionól Social Democratic Coinbhinsiún (SCCD) while the Liberty Party is organised as the Liberty Coinbhinsiún (CS). There can be smaller caucuses, including those that are multi-partisan or inter-partisan. An example of a multi-party grouping is the Equality Coinbhinsiún (CC), which consists of 334 TCs and is the single largest coinbhinsiún in the Comhthionól. The Middle is the largest coinbhinsiún within the Liberty Party, which consists of prominent party leaders such as Taoiseach Alexis Walker.

Dissolution

The Instrument for Governance of 1857 mandates that an election for the membership of the Comhthionól Náisiúnta must take place every five years on the twelfth of June. The Instrument specifics that the the Taoiseach must submit a writ of dissolution to the Monarch on the twelfth of May, one month to the day before the election takes place. The newly elected Comhthionól Náisiúnta must convene no later than 30 days after the polling day for the election. These elections are regularly held every five years and are not changed by the date of snap elections.

Taoiseachs have the authority to submit a writ of dissolution to the Monarch at any point, which the Monarch in turn customarily accepts. The procedure and timetable for the dissolution of the Comhthionól Náisiúnta, pursuant to a snap election, and the date for the reassembly of the newly elected Comhthionól rests with the Taoiseach of the day. The Instrument For Governance of 1857 leaves the timing to the Taoiseach's discretion. A snap election can be forced should a motion of no-confidence in the sitting Government be passed by the Comhthionól Náisiúnta. This in effect impeaches the sitting Government, forcing a snap election. The incumbent Taoiseach and the Cabinet form a caretaker government until the newly elected Comhthionól Náisiúnta convenes. However, the timing of the snap election is still set at the disrection of the Taoiseach. A motion of no-confidence in the Government is typically passed after a governing coalition collapses, with TCs belonging to the withdrawing party voting to support a motion submitted by the opposition.

Ceann Comhairle

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 current serving Ceann Comhairle is SDs TC Proinnsias Ó Loingsigh.

Name Period Comhthionól
Nicolás Cummins (Liberty) 12 June 2012 - 27 February 2019 31st, 32nd
Proinnsias Ó Loingsigh (SDs) 27 February 2019 - present 33rd

Powers

Activities

Standing committees

Select committees

Taoiseach's Questions

ceisteanna taoiseach ar (CTAs)

Voting procedures

Current composition

  Party Position Parliamentary leader Seats Status
Liberty Party Centre-right Nora MacQueen
156 / 399
In government
Social Democrats Centre-left Stiofán Mac Suibhne
117 / 399
Official opposition
Centre Party Centre Cúan Ó Domhnaill
33 / 399
In opposition
Labour Party Far-left Ivan Melnikov
28 / 399
In opposition
National Party Right-wing Liam Ó Cuillinn
23 / 399
In opposition
Glytter Democrats Centre-right Máire Ní Briain
16 / 399
In opposition
The Greens Left-wing Colm Ó Corráin
11 / 399
In opposition
Free Market Party Far-right Aonghas Mac Maol Dáire
7 / 399
In opposition
Glytteronian Independence Party Big tent Malachy McBride
6 / 399
In opposition
Pensioners' Party Centre-left Ellie Níc Raghnaill
1 / 399
In opposition