Sunday, April 29, 2007

Electoral Limbo

The General Election has been called, unsurprisingly for the 24th of May, making it five years almost to the day since the last one (for those non-Irish folk looking in, I am talking about the Emerald Isle here). Due to my brother's wedding twelve days beforehand I am not going to be able to take more time off work that month to return home and vote (which I did in 2002, though I had only been gone two months at that time). But I shouldn't have to return home. Depriving tens of thousands of other Irish people living abroad of a vote is a grave violation of democratic rights and is something that shocks foreign friends of mine when I inform them of it. There is no reason that votes cannot be submitted either by post or at Irish embassies and consulates abroad, as most other countries do, but facing an electorate that might have an inkling of how things are done elsewhere is not part of Fianna Fail's electoral engineering.

Insisting on having the elections on Thursday is another example of cute hoorness that obstructs the democratic process. Most European countries hold elections on Sundays for the most logical of reasons: most people are off work that day and it is easier to get to a polling station. Holding an election on a Thursday would be considered insane by most French people. Apparently the Rainbow Coalition are planning to abandon this crooked practice - hopefully they will. As I have said before I am unlikely to be living in Ireland under the next government but until I take out French citizenship or the laws governing elections here change I have no option but to jet back to Ireland come every election and falsely declare residency in order to cast my vote. I may have a touchingly old-fashioned belief in the power of one man, one vote but if it's a delusion, it's a comforting one. Will The Irish Times, so taken with the stirring example of democracy at work in the French Presidential elections, be writing an editorial deploring this scandalous lacuna in the democratic process closer to home?