Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Poll: Almost nine out of 10 say they want fewer politicians at Stormont... or none at all

There is overwhelming public support for cuts in the number of full time politicians at Stormont.

When asked if they would like to see the overall number of MLAs cut, 87% of voters surveyed believed the current total of 108 MLAs should be slashed — or that Stormont should be abolished altogether.

We currently have one MLA per 16,565 of population, or six per constituency.

That is proportionately between twice and three times as many representatives as in Scotland and Wales.

All 1,267 people of voting age who we surveyed answered a question on the number of MLAs they would like to see.

Just 14% believed the current number should be maintained, 33% believed they should be reduced to 90, 36% would like less than 90 MLAs and 18% believed the whole Assembly should be abolished.

In terms of age support for cuts numbers was highest amongst the young, with just 6% wanting the current numbers maintained.

Although Catholics wanted cuts they were more cautious on the issue than Protestant.

Twenty-eight per cent wanted the numbers maintained (compared to 8% of Protestants and 7% of others). Only 28% of Catholics wanted to slash the seats below 90 and 9% would prefer to abolish Stormont.

For Protestants the figures were 43% for deep cuts and 10% for abolition.

Catholics were generally more cautious of changes.

When asked if there should be an official opposition at Stormont four in 10 (39%) opposed the idea outright.

When the number who didn’t know were stripped out, 69% of Catholics were against the formation of an opposition, compared to 59% of Protestants and 63% of the population as a whole.

A very high number of people — 37% — offered no opinion on this question. LucidTalk reported that a lot of non-responders didn’t understand the question.

In line with best polling practice it wasn’t explained because offering an explanation could influence the answer unfairly.

An opposition would involve leaving some parties outside government but granting them speaking rights as happens in other UK regional assemblies and the Dail and Westminster.

That in turn enables governments to change and parties who are out of power to be voted in.

Our current mandatory coalition gives every party above a certain size a share in power.

For full statistics analysis visit Lucid talk

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