This is a really really difficult question at this election! At previous elections, it was a lot easier it seems. Since four parties were involved in the previous two governments and all couldn’t really convince anybody about their ability to run Ireland in a positive and successful way, many automatically look to the remaining alternatives. However the serious lack of experience, extremist views and mad election promises that will disappear as soon as the election is over don’t make this an easy process either.
So what should you do? My advise would be to read the party programme and to compare their views with yours. But don’t leave it there because the programme might be full of empty promises. Also check out the background of the 2-3 leading party figures and listen to some of their speeches (on Youtube you can find a lot!) or at least read some articles about them. Why not just focus on the party leader? Because he/she could be replaced after the elections!
Will you then know who to vote for? No!! But hopefully you will be able to use the – totally unreliable and highly risky – method of “gut feeling” to judge who you mistrust the LEAST.
Most people realise in this election that there is not one party that really convinces them, so the you have to go with the one that will hopefully disappoint you the least. Oh, and if your parents voted for a certain party and your grand parents voted for the same part, don’t follow them blindly! The parties have changed substantially and you better know what they are saying today.
Maybe www.smartvote.ie will help you to decide, but I find its focus too narrow on some of the parties’ statements.
Last week I wrote about Independents here and appealed to you NOT to vote for any Independent candidate. This is not because they are all bad apples (but some are!!), instead it is because they are a) unpredictable, b) not accountable to anybody once they were voted in and c) they will never come close to having any significant influence.
I got some interesting reactions after last week. Some agreed, some disagreed and that is all fine. Only one person was so disturbed by my opinion that she felt she had to unsubscribe. Her point was that Independents are vital to have dissenting voices in the Dail. Unfortunately my dissenting voice was, as she described it “stomach turning”. I guess it is always easier to demand “dissenting opinions” that agree with you than “dissenting opinions” that disagree with you.
But my point about the total lack of relevance of Independent candidates was confirmed at ALL TV debates before the election. Not a single Independent candidate was represented! However parties like the Green Party who have no TD in the Dail at the moment or Renua, who don’t have one because they are new and might just about get one in with a LOT of luck, they were invited to the TV debates.
If you didn’t get a chance to read my opinion piece last week, you can find it here: www.joergsteegmueller.com/2016/02/13/stay-away-from-independents/
And finally I would like to repeat what the person who found my opinion “stomach turning” unfortunately ignored: I am a foreigner and therefore have no clue in the eyes of some Irish people. So, what ever I write is nonsense anyway. ;-)
[This opinion piece was first published in the Dublin Event Guide (for Free Events) on 20 February 2016.]