Based on the preliminary indications, Michael D Higgins will be the Irish president for the next 7 years. This was not my preference, but I am not dismayed. In the end the president can’t do much anyway and i am sure Higgins will do an ok job.
However, I was hoping that Aras an Uachterain would not just a retirement home for a has-been politician and unfortunately that’s what it most likely will be.
Higgins might have been a strong and convincing politician in his younger years, but recently he is more known for citing poetry and for speaking in Irish.
The two previous presidents (Mary Robinson and Mary McAleese) had the same limited ability to achieve anything of substance, but they did push the boundaries a little. I expect that Higgins will not push anything.
He won’t screw up anything either, so no progress was made, no step forward and nothing beneficial to expect, but his probably election is no terrible disaster. …just a bit of a disappointment.
Considering that he is already too old for the role, we can be quite certain that he won’t stay longer in it than 7 years.
In a few days the next Irish president will be elected and the news have been full with reports about all the good intentions the candidates have for turning around the country. The only problem is that the Irish President has no influence over any day-to-day politics. His/her role is purely ceremonial with a very small and very controlled and limited political brief.
Many argued in the last few weeks that the role should be abolished, that Ireland doesn’t need a president and that the money for keeping the role is wasted.
I don’t agree with that. I think it is necessary and appropriate to have a superior power in a republic that is independent from politics. Someone who can represent the country without representing a certain political direction. Yes, there are cost involved, but it is a well justifiable luxury. ..better justifiable than the huge number of 160 TDs (members of parliament) for a tiny country like Ireland. (Germany has 622 members of parliament for 81 mio inhabitants, that’s 7.68 per 1 million people. Would a similar ratio apply to Ireland, Ireland would have approx. 35 members of parliament instead of 160!)
But back to the President:
Having a president makes sense, but it seems that the 7 candidates (and their interviewers) are not really clear on the role of a president.
A few months ago I was at an event where Mary McAleese, the current Irish President was expected as well. Because a junior minister of the Irish Government was speaking first, Mary McAleese was not allowed to be present until the junior minister had finished his speech. As a president she has to stand over party politics and I would understand if she isn’t allowed to agree or disagree with the opinion of a member of the government, but protocol prescribes that she is not even allowed to be in the same room with a publicly speaking politician. That is just crazy! Are a president’s ears so sensitive that we must protect them from the political waffle?
If a president is not even allowed to be present when a politician speaks, is it then really thinkable that a president will be able to create jobs or has ANY other political influence?
And if he/she doesn’t why don’t we stop asking the stupid questions about their intentions and goals (i.e their political program) as a president?
The new president is there to visit countries, shake hands and smile for the camera. There is no other role!