Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1968 (Ireland)
The Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1968 was a bill to amend the Constitution of Ireland to change the criteria for redistribution of constituencies in Dáil Éireann, the lower house of the Oireachtas. The proposal was rejected in a referendum held on 16 October 1968.
Proposed changes to the text
The subject matter of the referendum was described as follows in the information ballot presented to voters:
- The Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1968, proposes –
- that in forming Dáil constituencies, the population per deputy in any case may not be greater or less than the national average by more than one-sixth and that regard must be had to the extent and accessibility of constituencies, the need for having convenient areas of representation and the desirability of avoiding the over-lapping of county boundaries.
The actual change proposed was to change Article 16.2.3º of the text, from:
- The ratio between the number of members to be elected at any time for each constituency and the population of each constituency, as ascertained at the last preceding census, shall, so far as it is practicable, be the same throughout the country.
- A determination of constituencies shall be so effected that if with respect to each of the constituencies, the number of members to be elected for it is divided into its population (as ascertained at the census immediately preceding the determination) none of the quotients shall be greater, or less, than the average obtained by dividing the total population, as ascertained at the immediately preceding census, by the total number of members of Dáil Éireann by more than one-sixth of that average.
- A determination of constituencies shall not be effected during a period beginning on the date of a census and ending on the date of the publication of the relevant results (not being provisional results) thereof, and, if the latest time for effecting such a determination falls during such a period and the determination is not effected before the period begins, it shall, notwithstanding anything in this Article, be effected as soon as may be after the period ends.
- Subject to the foregoing requirement of this sub-section, regard shall be had at a determination of constituencies to the extent and accessibility of constituencies and the need for securing convenient areas of representation and, subject to those considerations, to the desirability of avoiding the overlapping by constituencies of the boundaries of Administrative Counties (other than boundaries between those Counties and County Boroughs).
The Third Amendment Bill proposed to specify more precisely the system of apportionment in the drawing of constituency boundaries. It would have permitted rural constituencies to elect a disproportionate number of TDs, thus allowing a degree of malapportionment. The intention was to favour rural areas which had been prone to depopulation; Fianna Fáil had a support base among the "small farmers" affected by this.
A previous Fianna Fáil government's 1959 constituency boundary revision was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court after a suit by John O'Donovan of the Fine Gael opposition, on the basis that there were "grave inequalities" with "no relevant circumstances to justify" them. The court, interpreting the "so far as it is practicable" condition of the Constitution, suggested a 5% variation as the limit without exceptional circumstances. The 1968 amendment would have increased this to 16.7%, which the then Fianna Fáil government of Jack Lynch said was strict by international standards.
The government introduced the Fourth Amendment Bill, 1968 in parallel, which would have replaced the proportional representation for Dáil elections with the British 'first-past-the-post' (plurality) system, based on single seat constituencies. This was put to a referendum the same day as the Third Amendment bill. The opposition Fine Gael and Labour Party presented the two bills as comprising an attempt by Fianna Fáil to rig the electoral system in its favour. The Third Amendment bill was rejected by 656,803 (60.8%) against to 424,185 (39.2%) in favour; the Fourth by a similar margin.
|Third Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland Bill, 1968|
|Invalid or blank votes||48,489||4.29|
|Registered voters and turnout||1,717,389||65.77|
- Politics of the Republic of Ireland
- History of the Republic of Ireland
- Constitutional amendment
- Irish constitutional referendum, 1968
- "CONSTITUTION OF IRELAND". Irish Statute Book. pp. Article 16.2.3º. Retrieved 15 April 2015.
- "Committee on Finance. -Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1968: Second Stage (Resumed).". Dáil Éireann debates. Oireachtas. 21 March 1968. Retrieved 15 April 2015.
- "Messages from Seanad.". Dáil Eireann debates. Oireachtas. 23 October 1968. Retrieved 15 April 2015.
Seanad Éireann has passed without amendment ... the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1968,
- Authoring/DebatesWebPack.nsf/takes/dail1968051500033#N86 "Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1968: Committee Stage. Amendment No. 1". 15 May 1968. pp. c.1368. Retrieved 15 April 2015.
- Authoring/DebatesWebPack.nsf/takes/dail1968051500033#N120 "Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1968: Committee Stage. Amendments Nos. 2 and 3". 15 May 1968. pp. c.1368. Retrieved 15 April 2015.
- "Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1968: Report Stage (resumed) and Final Stage". Dáil Éireann debates. 20 June 1968. Retrieved 15 April 2015.
- Coakley, John. "Constituency boundary revision and seat redistribution in the Irish parliamentary tradition" (PDF). Administration (Dublin: Institute of Public Administration) 28 (3): 305–7.
- "Referendum Results" (PDF). Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government. Retrieved 12 March 2012.