The island of Ireland is politically divided into the Republic of Ireland (officially name: Ireland), a state which covers five-sixths of the island and the Northern sixth of the island which is part of the United Kingdom. This article will cover only Republic of Ireland. It is a republic state based on parliamentary democracy.
President is the chief of state and is elected by popular vote for a seven-year term. President is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces but his role is largely ceremonial. Prime Minister is appointed by the President after nomination by the parliament (generally leader of the majority party or coalition), to serve a term of 5 years. Prime Minister is the head of government and enjoys the executive powers which include implementation of the law in the country and running the day-to-day affairs. Cabinet is appointed by the President after recommendation by the Prime Minister.
The legislature in Ireland is bicameral. The parliament consists of : Senate (the upper house) having 60 members which are nominated by universities, various interest groups and the Prime Minister to serve five-year terms; and the House of Representatives (the lower house) having 166 members which are elected by a popular vote on the basis of proportional representation to serve five-year terms. The Senate has powers of consultation and amendment only, and may not veto proposals emanating from the House of Representatives. The executive branch of government is directly or indirectly dependent on the support of the parliament, often expressed through a vote of confidence. Prime Minister can recommend dissolution of the parliament to the President, but the latter has the discretion to refuse it. The citizens of Ireland enjoy considerable political rights.
Judiciary is independent in Ireland. The main source of the law in Ireland is the constitution of 1937. The country's legal system is based on English common law and judicial review of various legislative acts by the Supreme Court. Ireland has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction. Ireland being a member of the European Union, the laws in the country need to comply with the conditions of the Community legislation. English and Irish are the two judicial languages used in the country.
The country is ruled by law. Foreign nationals can expect a fair trial from country's judicial system. Though corruption within the country is under control, but it has been an ongoing issue with politicians involved in many scandals.
Major political parties
There are a number of political parties in Ireland, and coalition governments are common. The state is unusual in that country’s politics is not primarily characterized by the left-right political divide. The main political parties in the country are:
- FF (Fianna Fail) – largest party, advocates Irish nationalism & Republicanism, supports Anglo-Irish Treaty;
- Fine Gael – second largest party, advocates Christian-Democracy, supports Anglo-Irish Treaty;
- Labour Party – centre-left, draws support from trade unions & industrial workers;
- Progressive Democrats – a liberal party, advocates free-market economy.
Major political leaders
President: Mary MCALEESE (since November 1997, re-elected in October 2004) – Fianna Fail
Prime Minister: Bertie AHERN (since June 1997, re-elected in May 2002) - Fianna Fail, heading a coalition with Progressive Democrats
Next political election dates
Presidential: October 2011
Senate: July 2007
House of Representatives: May 2007