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

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 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. ;-)

No big surprises

No big surprises

Over the last few weeks we haven’t experienced and big surprises. None of the candidates has lipped on any banana skins. They are all still plodding along and are trying their best to get as many votes as possible, but if we can trust the opinion polls, there have been shifts in opinion based on general performance of the parties.

Fine Gael has strengthened their position, Labour has lost, which to me is an indication that people didn’t like Labour’s attack on Fine Gael. Fianna Fail is down, but not out. Because nobody in Ireland can vote for a party, but instead you only vote for one local person – who by coincidence belongs to a party – an opinion poll that asks what party you want to govern the country is bound to be flawed.

Interesting is as well, how Micheal Martin talks and behaves as if he has never been involved in a government. Martin had a number of senior ministerial positions and certainly could have used his influence in the past to make a difference. He never did. But now he is trying to tell the electorate that they should vote for the candidates of his party. Interesting! I expect that they will get more TDs than the opinion polls indicate, but without a doubt they will be far away from the government for the next 5 years.

Sinn Fein? Well, Gerry Adams is doing better than I had expected and I am shocked about the high figures they got in the opinion poll. The SF position somewhere between socialist freedom fighters, terrorists and left-of-centre party wouldn’t leave me any room to vote for them, but an amazingly large group of voters has no issue with that at all.

Greens? Who?? Yes, they will be slaughtered for keeping the Fianna Fail government in power for so long and it is deserved. In my opinion they are totally un-votable for.

Independents are the remaining bundle of fun. For me it is one of the best indicators of the failed democratic structure in Ireland that individuals can be voted. Never it should be possible for a single person to get into a parliament. As long as it is possible that person is totally dependent on his/her voters in the constituency and that makes this politician corrupt (not in a financial sense, but in a sense that he has to do what his/her voters want, to get voted again). Yes, there is ONE Independent that I could support: Shane Ross, sounds sound and seems to make sense AND is not a parish-pump politician. But he should have set-up a party before the election instead of being an independent candidate.

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