I understand the practicalities of delaying the next NI Assembly Election to 2016, yet I cannot help feeling that we should be more uncomfortable with it. We elected our MLAs for four years, not five.
This is far from the first time. The 2003 Assembly Election was also randomly delayed a few months. The 2009 Council Elections took place in 2011 (clashing with the Assembly Elections because they did so).
Furthermore, this is not a one-off. The NIO’s announcement – itself an alarming sign that the NIO has fallen for the garbage put out by DUP/SF in the name of community relations – effectively means the Assembly will now serve five-year terms, not four. Maybe that’s a good thing, maybe it’s a bad thing, but no one actually voted for parties proposing it.
Maybe these are technicalities, but I would like to have seen more protest about them. Once you start tampering with the basics of representative democracy (such as the terms to which people were elected) without a mandate, can it be long before you randomly change the electoral system to suit a particular group, or just do away with elections altogether?
What is more, if you had submitted the idea of giving the current crop of MLAs another year to the public, I suspect we know what the outcome would have been. So why are we getting what the public never voted for?
Note this post, as ever, is written in an entirely personal capacity.