To Ourselves, Article Six

1.    All powers of government, legislative, executive and judicial, derive, under God, from the people, whose right it is to designate the rulers of the State and, in final appeal, to decide all questions of national policy, according to the requirements of the common good.

2.    These powers of government are exercisable only by or on the authority of the organs of State established by this Constitution.

In this article, the role of the people is set down. Though, God gets the higher position of course. Here, we have a possible contradiction in terms that gets sorted out by part 2.

The people have the right “to designate the rulers of the state” through elections which will be discussed later. More important is our other function: “to decide all questions of national policy.”

Say what now? That seems to give the people a truly enormous amount of power within the political system. Surely, by the language of this article, everything, and I mean everything, has to go the people for their approval. Bills, Budgets, Motions of Confidence?

Not so fast. Our powers “are exercisable only by…the organs of state.” Whew. Politicians dodged a bullet there huh?

Of course it only makes sense. Such a system as I’ve described above is completely unmanageable and will leave Irish politics at a crawling and vastly expensive speed. There is a reason we elect TDs (and Senators to a lesser extent). They are our voice, the ones we have chosen to exercise our rights “to the requirements of the common good.” They are “the people” too after all.

Though whether politicians actually go in for this “common good” stuff is an entirely different question. But no system is perfect. But the message of this article is clear: “the people” are the core of the state, its arbiters, its judges, its legislators, and its main player. Populism for the win.

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