So the polls open tomorrow morning in what is being described as “the most important election in the history of the state”, I wouldn’t go that far myself, but it is definitely the most important election of our lifetime.
The moratorium on the mainstream media comes into effect as I write this, and the final public statements from the party leaders have been made.
Listening to their statements on the News at One, they struck me as stale, uninteresting and over-rehearsed. It could be that I’m disillusioned from paying too close attention to the campaigns over the last few weeks, but I’m not excited by any of the main parties taking power.
Fine Gael are likely to pick up most seats, so the big question is whether they’ll have an overall majority or have to go into coalition with Labour and/or the Green Party. As much as I welcome Fine Gael (they should provide a refreshing change to the Fianna Fáil government that have been inpower the majority of my life), I fear that Fine Gael with an overall majority would be a mistake. The best case scenario (and best is too strong a word) is that Fine Gael go into coalition with the Labour Party.
So, what do I do in the morning with my ballot paper? I honestly don’t know for sure and I imagine my exact order of preference will fluctuate in the next 24 hours. Being in Dún Laoghaire, formerly a very strong Fianna Fáil constituency, means that if you rule them out (or at least rule them down to one seat between Hanafin or Andrews), there’s at least three seats available to candidates that are all promising the popular Obamaism of ‘change’.
Éamon Gimore is likely to top the poll for Labour, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Ivana Bacik rides on his coat-tails and pulls in enough transfers to be in the running for a seat. This is great for Labour and hopefully they’ll do similarly well nationally, but I’m disappointed at Gilmore’s would-be surrender in the last few days, and he almost sounds desperate in his plea to not leave Fine Gael as a single party government.
As for Fine Gael then, we have Seán Barrett and Mary Mitchell O’Connor, and I’ll admit that although I’ve been on the other side of the country for most of the campaign, from monitoring local happenings online and talking to people on the ground here, they don’t seem to be making as big an impact as you’d expect from Fine Gael. Barrett will probably pick up a seat anyway (and he’ll get a preference from me), but I’d be surprised if the party has garnered enough support for the second seat.
So if that’s all that the big parties have to offer, what real choice do we have? Fortunately this election has the highest number of Independent candidates running in the nation’s history and Dún Laoghaire is no exception with a total of 5, and a few outspoken Independents will hopefully make up some of Fine Gael’s shortfall if they go into Government with them. However, of the five independents running in Dún Laoghaire (full list of candidates here), only Nicholas Crawford (running under the New Vision banner) and Carl Naughton are contenders for a preference on my ballot.
Richard Boyd-Barrett (People Before Profit) is also running and having made a huge impact in local politics as a councillor, he is bound to pull in a lot of first preferences, but he won’t feature anywhere on my list due to his staunch opposition to Dún Laoghaire’s redevelopment that has in part killed the town when combined with competition from Dundrum.
The final candidate in Dún Laoghaire is Ciarán Cuffe, and as much as people are weary of returning a Green Party TD to office, I personally believe the party should continue to have a say in policy as their last effort was far too fleeting and with the wrong coalition partner to have effected any real change. As for Ciarán himself, I would consider him one of the best representatives the area has ever had on both national and local issues, so regardless of party, he’ll feature near the top of my list.
That’s it then, I have an idea of who’ll feature on my ballot paper, but the order is yet to be finalised.
As for the rest of the country, particularly the ever apathetic youth vote, as long as you’re registered, I implore you to vote tomorrow. Even if you’re as unsure of your preference order as I am, don’t neglect your right to have a say in matters. It’s hypocritical to give out about politicians and then do nothing about it, and the situation in Middle East and North Africa in recent weeks has clearly highlighted the importance of democracy and the power of people.
Polls are open from 0700 until 2200 tomorrow. Best of luck!
Tags: #ge11, 2011, Dún Laoghaire, politics
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