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Help! Elections in Ireland – Who should I vote for?

In the past it was simple: Either you were the type who would vote every time (even if it is your first opportunity) or you are a non-voter. And if you are the voting type, then you probably had a good idea who you would vote for.

But after years of “same old, same old” even if the government was provided by different parties and coalitions, people are quite confused this time. Politicians promise the “sun, moon and stars” before an election and afterwards…they totally disappoint. And the shocking thing is that even the ones that we had put our hopes in will disappoint.

If they all disappoint should I even vote or just forget about it?

Yes you should definitely vote, because the people in government will – without a shadow of a doubt – influence your future quite significantly. And if you are not part of choosing them, then maybe your dim neighbour from down the road or the obnoxious guy in your company might have more control over your future than you do. Not good!

Yes, but if I decide to vote, WHO will I vote for?

Ideally you should compare your opinions with the opinions of the candidates in your constituency to know who to vote for. And there is a website that can help you (and it won’t take long). Go to whichcandidate.ie and answer the few questions about your opinions and then the system will compare it with the answers from candidates. The result will not be a perfect guideline, but might help you to find the right direction.

Can you tell me in general something about the parties?

Sure, the biggest problem in Irish politics is that there is too much of the same. So for eternity Fine Gael (FG) and Fianna Fail (FF) were the only two big parties and they were just alternating in government. FF was in government when the economic crisis happened and a lot of people swore that they will never forget that and will NEVER again vote for FF. But surprisingly (or maybe not), a few years of Fine Gael government (with FF’s full endorsement – they called it a “Confidence and Supply” agreement), now suddenly people will consider voting FF again just to get rid of FG.
Another unexpected thing happened with the emergence of Sinn Fein (SF). Sinn Fein has as bad bad past, considering their direct involvement in the Northern Ireland conflict and the ongoing criminality through their IRA links. But people are so disillusioned by FF and FG that they seemingly are prepared to gamble the house on Sinn Fein.
SF will definitely change things more significantly than any continuation of the FF/FG governments will, but the big question is if that change is not too risky.
“Protest Voting” (to punish a former government) is always a dangerous move, because the party you voted for could win the majority and consequently be in power for the next 4 years.

What about the other parties?

Labour and Greens were part of previous governments and didn’t necessarily impress back then. The Social Democrats and People Before Profit were not yet involved in governments before. All four will never become strong enough to lead the government, so yes, you can vote for some of their candidates, because a coalition will probably be a good thing for the country.

So if one of the parties are not so great, should I vote for an Independent candidate?

No, no, no, no!!! Do not vote for ANY independent candidate. IT is very odd that 20% of the people in Ireland are prepared to give independent candidates their vote because the Independents either achieve nothing or they will or they will sell their soul to the highest bidder of the other parties, which will totally compromise them. Independent candidates are MAYBE good for the constituency, but because they are only interested in getting re-elected, they have NO interest in national politics outside their constituency.

Shane Ross, an independent who helped the previous government, achieved great things for his constituency, but was the worst Minister for Transport.
Michael Lowry, who was once a minister and was kicked out of FG, has been described as “profoundly corrupt”. The Healy-Rae Candidates from Kerry are only interested in Kerry gaining from whatever they do. They couldn’t care less about the rest of Ireland.
So Independent Candidates are unreliable, change their opinion depending on who offers them most and would definitely run the country into the ground…as long as their own voters get an advantage.
Do NOT vote for Independents!!! NEVER! ;-)

Thanks for the advice, but I still am not sure who I should vote for!

I know, it is REALLY difficult this time. I could tell you who I would vote for, but you are not me and your opinions might be different than mine, so even telling you won’t help you much.
So, let me just remind you again of my main recommendations: NEVER vote for Independents. Always vote for the party (or parties) you want to see in government, never vote out of protest for a party that you don’t necessarily want to have running the country. Don’t just vote for a specific party because lots of other people say so! Make your own decision! Be aware that all three main parties (FG, FF, and SF) have a bad historical record and then decide whoever’s bad record you can live better with. Is it ruining the country in 2008 (Fianna Fail) or not making anything better in the last 8 years (Fine Gael) or is it the involvement in the killings in Northern Ireland (Sinn Fein)? You need to decide! On the positive side: Maybe Fianna Fail have learned how to do it better after 8 years in the opposition? Or Fine Gael needs more time to fix things better? Or Sinn Fein is a changed party since the Good Friday agreement?


Disclaimer: As you probably know, I am a foreigner and therefore I have no clue anyway (according to some commentators on public news forums), so because of that, feel free to discard my opinions completely. ;-)

Go Voting on Friday

Yes, on the coming Friday (26 October) the presidential election is taking place in Ireland and you should go and cast your vote if you have one! Only if you are an Irish citizen you get to vote and I know that MANY Dublin Event Guide Readers are not citizens in Ireland, but the rest should definitely go and vote.

You might ask WHY? Because in the end it will have absolutely no impact on your life (or anybody else’s) or on Irish politics or on your wealth or wellbeing. Yes, indeed, voting for the Irish President is a bit of a waste of time as far as real life issues are concerned. BUT using your vote, whenever you have the opportunity, is – in my opinion – a sort of duty for everyone who cares about democracy. There will be no repercussions if you don’t vote, so the “duty” element is just a “moral duty”, but nevertheless it is relevant to keep democracy alive/working.

If you want to know my opinion about who people should vote for – and yes, it is a bit controversial – you will find it at www.joergsteegmueller.com/2018/10/19/presidential-election-anyone-but-miggeldy/

By the way, you will ALSO have a vote about a referendum on that Friday. The referendum will decide if the Blasphemy article will stay in the constitution or not. (Blasphemy is the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence to a deity, or sacred things.) Total nonsense in a secular society that does not depend on any church (anymore). And in the Irish version, the Blasphemy  article even only covers the Christian definition of a “God” and ignores all other religions. Even more a reason to get rid of this silly article from 1935.

Presidential Election: Anyone but Miggeldy!!!

The Presidential Election in Ireland is coming closer. On 26 October all Irish citizens in Ireland will be asked to vote for a new President. There are six candidates (including the current president) and the term is a very long 7 years.

The candidates are Sean Gallagher, Gavin Duffy, Peter Casey, Joan Freeman, Liadh Ní Riada and the current president Michael D. Higgins (a.k.a Miggeldy Higins, after a primary school’s child answer to the question “Who is the President of Ireland?”).

None of the candidates is any better than another, considering that the Irish President has virtually NO political power. But none of them is unsuitable either. So who should you vote for?

In my opinion you can’t do ANYTHING wrong, no matter who you vote for, so if  – for whatever reason – you feel passionate about one of them, go ahead and vote for him or her. But if you are not sure and care about my opinion, then I would suggest to vote for anyone but Michael D. Higgins!

Why so? There are two reasons: 1) Age and 2) Arrogance

We have a minimum age for a President. For some reason it has been decided that anybody that is younger than 35 years of age is not eligible to be voted as a President. In the same way, it also would make sense to have an upper age limit. It can’t make sense that an over 80 year old is the President of a country unless we are super desperate and absolutely can’t find anyone else! Higgins will be 84 when the next term ends and there is no good reason for that. Aras an Uachterain should NOT be a retirement home!

And the point about arrogance? I know he took part in the debate on Virgin Media One on Thursday, but his refusal to take part in previous debates is an arrogance that no candidate should be allowed to get away with. And Sean Gallagher, who also refused because Higgins refused, doesn’t get any stars for this from me either.

Speaking about debates: The Virgin Media One debate was really interesting, because it showed that Michael D. Higgins is not at all an impressive candidate, actually he is surprisingly weak, considering that he was in that position already for 7 years. (So don’t expect anything impressive from him in the next 7 years!) But it also showed, that there is no outstanding other candidate.

And finally, what would I do…if you care? The one that I would probably vote for is Gavin Duffy! Seven years ago, it would have been Sean Gallagher, but this time around I am not convinced about him.

For me, the biggest surprise of the evening was that Pat Kenny did a really good job in probing the candidates!

Nobody is allowed to check the President’s spend?

The job of the “Public Accounts Committee (PAC)” is to check the expenditure of all offices, departments and government agencies to make sure that they don’t waste money and that everything is done and accounted for properly.

They are meant to do that regularly, but oddly it seems that the expenditure of the President wasn’t checked for a much longer time.

Now they have decided to do that checking in the next week. But suddenly the “Secretary General to the Government and Accounting Officer for the Office of the President” has a big problem with that check. He thinks it is even unconstitutional because nobody is allowed to check the President. Interestingly the Taoiseach and the leader of the opposition both also are worried about that check.

Odd! If all is well, nobody should be worried and if things are not well, then we should definitely find out BEFORE the presidential election. Don’t you think?

RTE writes about it here.

Mayor No. 349

Every year, Dublin City Councillors elect a new Mayor and last week was that day again. This would be a relevant event in many cities around the world, but not in Dublin. The mayor of Dublin has a big title (“Lord Mayor”), but absolutely no power to change anything. He will move into Mansion House for the year, will cut ribbons and open shops and has the BIG job of turning on the Christmas Lights in December.

Unless we get a directly elected mayor – and this should have happened years ago – he is just a figure head that we easily could do without. :-O Instead of a mayor, an unelected “City Manager” is running Dublin and he often even ignores what the Dublin City Council wants. “In the interest of the people” is different!!

The new mayor is the 349th one. Mad!

The name of the mayor is Nial Ring. Ring was part of disgraced Taoiseach Bertie Ahern’s inner circle in Fianna Fail for many years, but when his party didn’t want to support him when he wanted to be elected as a councillor, he suddenly became a “Independent” candidate. In 2017 he lost his house in Clontarf because he didn’t pay the mortgage payments and had arrears of EUR 500,000, so maybe he is lucky that he can move into Mansion House now.

 
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