Written Answers. - Electoral Reform.

John Gormley

Question:

685 Mr. Gormley asked the Minister for the Environment and Local Government the progress, if any, made by him to date since coming into office in relation to encouraging voter turnout at elections and progressing the implementation of electoral reforms; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27301/98]

I have taken a number of measures, which I believe will help to faciltate a high turnout at this year's local and European elections. With a view to maximising turnout I announced in 1998 that the local elections will be held in conjunction with the European elections on Friday, 11 June 1999. By giving advance notice of the polling day, greater awareness of the elections has been generated. In addition, a publicity campaign took place in November 1998 advising persons to check the draft 1999/2000 register of electors and highlighting the fact the register will be used for this year's elections. I also intend to publicise the facility of the supplement to the register of electors whereby people can make late applications up to mid-May 1999 to be registered to vote at the June 1999 elections.

In relation to electoral reform, I established referendum commissions under the Referendum Act, 1998 to provide information to the electorate in respect of the referenda on the Treaty of Amsterdam and the British-Irish Agreement. A review of the electoral system itself is currently being undertaken by the All-Party Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution in the context of its examination of the institutions of the State. I would hope that the all-party committee's report, when it is available, will provide a basis for an informed public debate on our electoral system and the scope for reform.