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Ireland Goes Left For Once…

Over the weekend Ireland bucked the trend throughout Europe and went to the left instead of the right when voting in the European elections.  Having got rather used to being permanently embarrassed and frustrated by the almost Thatcherite tendencies repeatedly shown by two successive Fianna Fail / PD coalitions and there having been bugger all in the way of change since the PDs imploded and Fianna Fail got into bed with a mixture of Greens and Independents, the results came as a pleasant surprise.

I remember being thoroughly depressed in France in 1998 (I was studying there at the time) when a news report called Ireland one of only three right wing states in the EU.  Of course a lot has changed in the last eleven years.  The Celtic Tiger has roared, scratched the furniture and finally slunk off taking a lot of what made Ireland a nice place to live with it.  We’re now pretty much where we started but at least this weekend we moved a step in the right direction.

While the rest of Europe stayed away from the polling stations, allowing the right and centre right to claim victories all over the place, here in Ireland we voted in higher numbers than usual and used the three votes at our disposal to show a resounding two fingers to the ruling parties.  Fianna Fail have been well and truly trounced and the Greens have been decimated.  After impressive gains in the local elections Fine Gael are the largest party in the State for the first time in 80 years (that’s pretty much the entire time the state has been in existence) and Labour are the biggest party in the capital.

In the small hours of this morning Joe Higgins, the Socialist Party activist and politician succeeded in shunting Fianna Fail’s Eoin Ryan out of his Euro seat and claiming it for himself.  It’s a marked contrast to the UK where this afternoon and evening there are demonstrations taking place across England in protest at the victory of two British National Party (far-right nationalists as the name suggests) Euro candidates.

I’ve watched the coverage of the last three general elections here in Ireland feeling increasingly frustrated at my fellow voters as again and again Fianna Fail sailed to victory even though the warning signs that what they were doing with the economy was not the best long term plan were there for all to see.  It might have taken over a decade and a global economic crash for the people to vote for an alternative but better late than never.

It remains to be seen whether a general election would get the same result but there’s a vote of no confidence in the government tomorrow so there’s a chance we’ll find out sooner rather than later.

1 Comment

  1. Nick McGivney

    I’d like to think that people weren’t venal, mercurial and as likely to oscillate between fear, confusion and plain greed as lab rats in a run, but we got fed up, didn’t we? If the gravy was still coming, the moral indignation of George Lee and the due and proper anger of Mannix Flynn would’ve been easily overlooked in the rage to get a parking spot in Dundrum. Fianna Fail were hoist on their own petard by cruel international timing and the inevitable collapse of the local pyramid scheme. And we’re just as pouty as all hell about it.

    Some of it was long overdue, and some good will hopefully come of it, but I don’t see much righteous anger about it. What the hell was I expecting anyway? Left was an alternative to centrist greed, and frankly before the bubble exploded the left was pretty centrist itself. Remains to be seen how far they can pull themselves over to Joe (Higgins, not Stalin, heh.) Labour will have a fine old time of it and all, what with union protectionism in high dudgeon but fiscal reality not giving too much of a four-cornered fuck about the rights of the individual worker. Kenny, effective though he’s undoubtedly been as a party leader, is no national leader any more than I am. But I accept it, crucially.

    Oh t’will be jolly for sure, Obadiah, but now that Damages, The Wire, The West Wind and The Sopranos are through, what else would we be watching for fictional escapism?

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