Wednesday, May 23, 2007

About Tomorrow

A heavy workload today and the Champions' League final will probably prevent me doing a last post on tomorrow's election, so I will simply say that I am hoping for a change of government. No real surprise there - if I were able to vote, it would be going, as it did last time, to my fellow Sligo-man Joe Costello of Labour, running in Dublin Central, with transfers going to the Greens and left-wing independents. As you can see, I don't view Irish politics along the old Civil War divide (though neither, really, do the two right-wing parties that that divide produced).

A feature of this election campaign has been the absence of any substantial economic policies being floated, probably because nobody sees it wise to tamper with the feelgood factor that the prosperous years has produced. It's not the economy, stupid. But there is much discontent in the country also, on the insane price of housing, about the fourth-rate healthcare system, serious flaws in education (ones that have failed to be ameliorated since long before we became rich) and, the pathetically low quality of life available to most people in such a well-off country. One might also add the perennial stench of corruption, most of it emanating from the Soldiers of Destiny, but it appears the Plain People of Ireland are not overly concerned with that. It's a smell they can live with.

The last opinion polls I saw suggested that the two possible coalitions are neck-and-neck, though the Greens were not factored into a Rainbow one. So there is a good chance that there will be a change of government. Ideally it would be a wholesale change but I am sure that Labour, just as in 1992, will ditch their pre-election stance and enter coalition with Fianna Fáil, if need be. It would be hard to stomach but one can at least hope they will put manners on the bastards. The two coalition governments Labour were involved in in the 1990s produced enlightened social legislation that dragged Ireland kicking and screaming into the 20th century. Kicking and screaming indeed as they suffered huge losses at the 1997 election, accused of being arrogant. Electorates anywhere in the world are rarely rational, and Ireland is no different. The most cheering possibility is the likelihood that the lunatic fringe of the PDs will be consigned to history - never before has a party of 2% support held such a disproportionate influence in government. Michael McDowell has been led a merry dance by Ahern and Co. since he assumed the leadership last year, proving himself to be as inept a political dealer as he is a shameless opportunist. After the election he may have very few comrades to provide him with doughnuting services in the new Dáil.