We have attempted to examine government and politics in Ireland across three dimensions, looking at political institutions, political behaviour and significant elements of public policy. In terms of political institutions, clear similarities exist between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland. Both have parliamentary structures that have evolved from the Westminster model. Members of representative institutions adopt constituency work as arguably more important than their legislative functions. The Irish Republic and Northern Ireland both utilize the PR-STV voting system and both polities operate under coalition government, within which interparty bargaining shapes policy outputs. Local government powers are low in both states, exceptionally so in Northern Ireland, where local councils are the weakest in Western Europe. The respective civil services operate on similar lines, shaped by the Whitehall model of permanency and neutrality, whilst both have been subject to managerial reforms designed to introduce a more innovative and dynamic culture. Since 1998, political actors in both states have opted for constitutional politics framed directly by the GFA and indirectly by a system of common law and legal jurisprudence common to both polities.
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