Charles Haughey outlines the Fianna Fáil referendum campaign to abandon proportional representation in favour of the straight vote.

The proportional representation (PR) voting system used in Irish elections is enshrined in the 1937 constitution and as such, it can only be amended by referendum. 

In 1959 a referendum took place on a proposal to replace PR with the single member plurality system or first past the post system. This proposal was defeated.

Two constitutional referenda are being held on 16 October 1968 both relating to the electoral system.

The Third Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland Bill 1968 defines the apportionment of constituency boundaries in a manner which would have allowed a greater degree of divergence of the ration between population between constituencies.

The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland Bill 1968 proposes to alter the electoral system for elections to Dáil Éireann from PR by means of the single transferable vote to the first past the post voting system.

Minister for Finance Charles Haughey says the most important part of the campaign is to change from PR to single seats, but the Third Amendment is also of great importance. 

I see, the whole, the two things, very much as a package, mutually dependent on each other and of equal importance.

The Fianna Fáil campaign has barely started, but aims to put the matter as clearly and succinctly before the people and ask them to decide on the basis of rational argument. 

Party loyalty won’t have a great part to play in the campaign.

He notes there was an exceptional enthusiasm for change at the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party meeting,

The only dispute or argument between us was how we could most effectively conduct the campaign.

Fianna Fáil will be campaigning on the same scale as with a general election. 

We regard it as just as important.

While the turnout at the 1959 referendum was a 56%, he expects it to be better this time round as people are more aware and informed about politics and there are half a million new young voters on the register. 

The campaign will use traditional features such as public meetings and canvassing, but Mr Haughey believes television will play a bigger part than it has previously.

Jack Lynch's Fianna Fáil government lost both referenda in October 1968.

This episode of '7 Days' was broadcast on 6 September 1968. The reporter is Ted Nealon.