Jason OMahony - Irish political blogger, Irish politics, EU politics
 

Some things I have learnt about Irish Politics (repost).

Posted by Jason O on Oct 10, 2013 in Irish Politics |
I knew your father/mother/social welfare officer well!

I knew your father/mother/social welfare officer well!

The first election campaign I was ever directly involved in was the 1991 local elections, where I canvassed for Jeananne Crowley in the Pembroke Ward, a seat I’d contest myself in the 1999 elections. After that, I campaigned in local, general, European and by-elections, and in a number of referendums. And that’s not counting the internal party elections I campaigned in. Between 1991 and 2005, when I resigned from the Progressive Democrats, I experienced a fair bit of Irish politics, and came across what I would regard as fairly solid general rules of Irish politics. They are general, there are always exceptions, but broadly speaking I believe they’re true:

1. With the possible exception of Sinn Fein and the Communist Parties, and maybe in byelections, there is no longer such a thing as party machines in the traditional sense. Successful candidates have to effectively build their own teams of, for the most part, personal loyalists.

2. Irish people vote for people over ideas nearly always. People are far more likely to vote for a person they like but disagree with politically over a person they agree with but dislike.

3. It is possible to be interested in the politics of ideas, or the politics of elections, and never have anything to do with the other. Indeed it is getting more and more likely.

4.  The one characteristic a successful candidate absolutely must have over everything else is physical stamina, and a willingness to keep knocking on doors and talking to people over and over again. It is possible for a stupid candidate to be elected again and again. A lazy candidate will probably only be elected once, and only because he/she is related to someone.

5.  The lack of knowledge displayed by voters, and their pride in that lack of knowledge, about how the political system works, and how decisions are made, will never cease to amaze you.

6. By international standards, it is relatively easy for a small group to change things in Ireland if it has determination, courage and organisation. The failure to bring change has usually been because of a lack of one of those three factors. The Provisional IRA and the Progressive Democrats proved that.

7. Irish people take a masochistic comfort in believing that an uncontrollable force, be it the Brits, the IMF, or potatoes, is responsible for their woes, and are comfortable with people knowingly lying to them.

8. “The Rich” are people who earn €15k more than you per annum. “The Ordinary People” are your friends and family.

9. The fact that we ask candidates the same questions in both local and national elections explains a lot about why Ireland is the way it is today.

3 Comments

Ann Connolly
Feb 12, 2014 at 12:40 pm

Hi Jason

First of all I must declare an interest. In Labour Party and good friend of both Dermot Lacey and kevin Humphreys . Know both long before they were elected. Live in Sandymount. Actually a PD supporter Marie Shelbourne lives opposite me. Maybe I should say a McDowell supporter. Very I’ll at the moment.

Agree with your comments. One thing I find very interesting is that many people think immediately after election when new government is elected, everything is going to change overnight. Then when it doesn’t are very disappointed.

If the public don’t like you for some reason you are finished. It’s such a pity that ideas and policy mean so little. People also vote on how much they will have in their pockets and yet expect first class services.

All this can be very disheartening as most people join political parties for ideology, initially at least.


 
Jaime
Feb 12, 2014 at 2:21 pm

This shows your line of thought developing.

I’m not so sure about Point 7.


 

[...] inevitable consequence is this article by Jason O’Mahony, and particularly Points 2 and 3 – they apply universally across [...]


 

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