In last year’s US presidential election, there was a clear choice on offer. Both parties offered a pretty distinct social platform, and each an economic platform that had some differences. In the UK general election in May 2015, the European question will mean that voting for one party over the other will probably have a profound difference on what sort of country Britain will be post 2017 referendum, if it happens. The point is that the results would shape daily life.
The same cannot be said of an Irish general election. In the last 36 months we have experienced life under Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour. We can also see, looking North of the border, what life under Sinn Fein would look like, and it does not look that radically different than like life down here. Sinn Fein will of course claim that a govt south of the border has greater room for action, being a sovereign state. This is true. But the reality is that Sinn Fein is moving towards a policy centre which will make it pretty much where Labour are now. Talk to people in Donegal or Kerry or Monaghan about their Sinn Fein representatives, and they will tell you that aside from waving the tricolour they no more want to frighten the horses than your average Fianna Failer. Radical socialists they are not, as their bitterly disappointed leftwing voters will discover. Life under a Sinn Fein coalition will not even be as left wing as France under Hollande.
Of course, says you, there’s always the Greens and the People’s Front of Killiney. True, but the Greens, despite their best intentions and efforts, showed just how resistant the rest of the Irish political establishment is to reform. As for Joe and the gang: Jaysus, they couldn’t even run a parliamentary group of seven people without splitting four ways. They are populist panderers, not even socialists, so don’t be holding your breath.
So just don’t vote? Surely that’s a cop out/Is this what the Men/Women of 1916 stormed a biscuit factory for, etc? Not really. I’d still vote in a referendum, and if they reform the Seanad and elect the panels I might vote in that. But even that would be purely for the sport, that I enjoy a good election count and the transfers and all the rest. But would it change much. Nah. This country, and here’s the thing, does not want change. We are actually a politically content people. The fact that a majority of our voters support FF or FG in polls confirms that. So move along, there’s nothing to see here.