With an election on Friday, this seems as good a place as any to work out my own ideas as to how I should vote. Normally I vote Independent on principle, but the policies of some of the smaller parties do appeal to me. Does the pragmatism of voting for an amorphous group whose values align with mine outweigh the greater goal of eliminating political parties altogether? Possibly.
One advantage of political parties is that I can eliminate a whole swathe of candidates in one fell swoop. So let’s do that. How do the parties stack up?
AAA seems to be mostly interested in agitation and has no real suggestions as to how to fix the economy. Keep them out of government so they can keep on doing what they do best – speaking truth to power.
Unlike a lot of Ireland, I don’t hate Fine Gael more than is warranted for the mere existence of a political party. They inherited an economy that Fianna Fáil had royally fucked up and was was heading toward total collapse while the Troika demanded blood oaths in exchange for protection. Caught between the devil and the deep blue sea with little time to make a choice, Fine Gael went with what seemed to be the lesser of two evils. On social issues, I approve of the party’s whole-hearted embrace of marriage equality, and they appear to at least be thinking carefully about the Eighth Amendment instead of just demanding abortion on demand no questions asked. Their handling of the health system has been pretty terrible, but that was also the case under Fianna Fáil, and overall I honestly think Fine Gael did the best they could given the circumstances. Will I vote for them? Probably not.
Ruairí Quinn was right when he recently pointed out that people hold Labour to a higher standard than they do other parties. With 19% of the seats, people expected them to perform like a majority party. They were able to push marriage equality through because Fine Gael agreed with their position, but their economic reforms and attemps to bring in abortion failed due to opposition from the majority party.
Looking over Labor’s manifesto, there’s a lot of buzzwords and, where not hopelessly vague, ideas that are incredibly aspirational but implausible to implement, particularly in their ambitions regarding climate change. I don’t agree with Labour’s desire to remove contitutional protection for the unborns’ right to life, so overall I’m reluctant to vote Labour.
The Greens are even more eager than Labour to repeal the Eight Amendment, which is a shame because the rest of their manifesto is pretty good. Goals are plausible and sensible, and reducing CO2 emissions will save many lives. They might just get one of my votes.
The newest party, founded just last year by three Independents, so small their website doesn’t even show up at the top of the DuckDuckGo rankings. Manifesto looks good; they’re in favour of UK-style universal health care, community banking system, concrete steps to make things easier for small businesses, opposing the TTIP, and… oh, they also want to repeal the Eight Amendment, but they’re at least going to go about it the right way, by bringing in a Citizen’s Convention to figure out exactly how this should be implemented.
This list is just for candidates in my area, since I have neither the time nor the inclination to cover everybody running for office in Ireland. So here’s my choices for Limerick City. Obviously, Fianna Fáil, Renua, Sinn Féin, and AAA are excluded, and I’m not voting for Fine Gael either.
Jan O’Sullivan (Labour)
I’m willing to cut Labour some slack due to being the minority party, but O’Sullivan is Minister for Education. Under her ministry, Ireland’s school system has decayed, taxpayers are still subsidising fee-paying schools, and she directly, consciously encourages the use of Apple products in her digital skills approach. I guess it’s too much to ask that our children use only free software (although Ubuntu tablets will be here soon), but you’d think she could at least have sided with Android, which is slightly less bad than iThings. My ranking: ℵ0.
Sarah Jane Hennelly (Social Democrats)
James Gaffney (Green Party)
Standard Green Party policies. Seems reasonable if you’re a Green supporter.
Des Hayes (Independent)
His website is somewhat vague as to policy, though he does intend to demand that at least 80% of local property tax must be spent in the community. I like him. Yeah, he’s going to get one of my votes.
Denis Riordan (Independent)
Couldn’t find any information on his policies or recent activity. No vote.
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