Monday, June 21, 2010
Irish Politics in Mildly Interesting Shocker!
The first thing I do whenever I meet with my brother is discuss whatever is happening in the world. I had been away for a full week without a hint of news. Where I was staying was internet-less and Tv-less so i was hoping to be caught up with all the goings on in Gaza or if BP had fixed the leak. Imagine my shock and horror then, when it was the name of our very own dear nation that escaped from his lips.
Because let me explain just a little bit about the political system of this small island nation. We of course are a Republic and we use a Proportional representation system which has lead to a coalition being in power every year of my living memory. And it has been the will of the people of this nation in its 90 odd year history to make the centrist Fianna Fail Party the states largest since 1932. The states second largest party is Fine Gael and equally centrist party that has only formed part of 3 Governments since its inception in 1933.
So has Fianna Fail been doing such an amazing job of running the country that the electorate simply couldn't vote for anyone else? Well we entered recession earlier and deeper than everyone else and are expected to emerge from it much later, so ill let you answer that question.
2 factors, I believe have led to Fianna Fail's reign or Fine Gael's suppression. No.1 Irish people vote with their parents. Now this is an issue that you may think doesn't make a difference and exists everywhere however, there is widespread apathy in Irish politics which means this problem is more pronounced here than anywhere else. Why is there such apathy you might ask? Well that is factor number 2. Its a fact that every member of Fianna fail and Fine Gael know, every civilian up and down the country knows, the parties are virtually identical.
Not one member of either party I have ever spoken to has been able to give me one, yes, not even one policy difference that exists between the two main political parties in this country. So what motivation could we possible have for swapping our allegiances when we know we will just get more of the same. that isn't to say we don't vote, we do. We just do as we are told by our parents because that is how it has always been done.
However back to what is mildly interesting in the past weeks events. Now while we may not riot in the street at crazy budget cuts or start mass strikes like the French we of course cannot ignore the unprecedented global economic downturn which has turned us from Celtic tiger to weeping tiger quicker than you can say Fanny May. So, on the tenth of June a major Irish newspaper released an opinion poll showing that since January the ruling party's approval rates have fallen five points to an incredible 17% BUT, Finne Gael's approval ratings have also dropped by 4 points meaning that for the first time in the history of the State it is the Centre Left Labour Party that is currently the largest party in the country.
Already, we see the fallout from this poll. A no confidence motion in the leader of finne gael has just barely failed to be passed after he was shown to have dropped 7% in the opinion polls despite the floundering s of his Prime Ministerial counterpart. It seems that in a Europe that is swinging further back to the right for security in the downturn it may be the rural, Western, Catholic farmers that change the tide of Ireland's downright boring political history.