With 6 months to go until local election season, many of you are – like myself – massively disenfranchised with politics. Maybe it’s the misery in the media, perhaps it’s the pessimism in the papers, I don’t know. I certainly hate everything, because it’s easer that way. On the other hand, if you’ve no idea who’s who and have a bizarre amount of trust in the opinion of some guy on the internet, fear not! Below I’ll outline each of the parties – old and new – so you don’t make any massive errors on voting day if you do accidentally stagger into a booth. There are some familiar gangs and some new blood so try to treat all impostors just the same here, eh? From top to bottom:
Leader – Glorious leader, Emperor Enda “Edna” Kenny
Alignment – Centre but leaning right wing. Tough on crime, “law and order” party, traditionally catholic conservative but lately just conservative with a slight (slight) hint of common sense on social issues. Won the civil war 100 years ago. Economically, no big difference to Fianna Fail (no matter what they’d have you believe).
The good – Softening slightly on the social side of things, with Edna proclaiming that he was “not a catholic taoiseach, but a taoiseach who was catholic” which (sadly) is a milestone for irish politics. Depending on your point of view, he’s either made tough decisions to get Ireland out of recession, or bent over and let Germany put it anywhere they want to. Either way, it’s fair to say that the national books look better now than they did when FF were last in charge.
The bad – Elected on the premise that they weren’t Fianna Fail, they have spent the last 2 years becoming Fianna Fail. At first they garnered massive support and promised many sweeping changes, as well as the end of corrupt cronyism and handshake politics in Ireland. Sadly their ministers have proven to be just as ethically questionable, with Edna’s two closest allies (Minister for nursing homes, James Reilly and Minister for Misery, Phil Hogan) both severely embattled in various scandals.
The rest – Remember just above when I said they won the civil war? At this point, that’s the primary ideological difference between FG and FF. Both are conservative, both are entirely male-dominated, both are pro-business and anti-nationalisation, neither is wiling to budge from the centre-right long enough to actually change anything. They’re one side of the very established Irish political system, and as such have the most to lose from any major upheaval at the ballot box. They’ve also used most of their “it’s the last government’s fault” currency by now, and at some point should make take ownership of the state they’re supposed to be running. Also, there are questions as to just how autocratic Enda’s rule is, which has in the past almost caused his downfall.
The Fall Guy An Tanaiste, Eamon Gilmore.
Alignment – Centre Left, although if you asked them they’d think they were still socialists
The good – Of the major parties, they take the most liberal and progressive tune. Considering that the other two tunes are in German and Irish respectively, that’s only barely to their credit.
The bad – Like the PDs and the Greens before them, they’ve completely compromised any supposed ideals as the junior half of the government. And, like the PDs and the Greens before them, it’s going to cost them. Big.
The rest – As a former labour supporter, I’d have called them the “least worst option”. They’ve always been the most powerful of the remotely liberal parties, and they tend to share the natural liberal bias that reality has. Sadly, they’ve also colluded with policies handed down from Enda (more likely Angie) that have both flown in the face of their own established tax ideals AND managed to piss off their core supporters (cities and trade unions). Theirs will be the biggest fall from grace in living memory.
Leader – Michael “just following orders” Martin
Alignment – Centre right, but ever-so-slightly less right wing than Fianna Fail.
The good – Most of them had nothing do with the 10 years of reckless financial mismanagement, backhanded deals, brown envelope passing and finally bailout-shaped nation destruction that was the Ahern/Cowen era.
The bad – Nobody has yet forgiven them for any of the above, or forgotten that their current leader was a senior minister throughout.
The rest – Theirs is the most interesting struggle right now. Their brand is utterly, utterly toxic. They represent one half of the establishment that the majority want to see turned inside out. Their leader – while extremely eloquent, articulate and slick – is tainted by his past, however the alternative leaders are few and virtually unheard of. Trying to predict how they do is tough, in that the anti-establishment vote could go for OR against them, depending on the weather.
Leader – Gerry Adams
Alignment – Socialist Marxist Nationalist Republican Democratic Liberal Socialist Nationalist Did we say Socialist? Liberal Republicans.
The good – They promise a thousand years of unimaginable plenty, no tax forever, sunny weather in december and a free car for anyone that votes for them. 100% free education and healthcare, 0% USC, motorways to cover every possible road in the country, and a 32 county united ireland in which we all dance, happy and carefree, to the sound of the Wolfe Tones.
The bad – They’re completely full of shit, and have a history of shooting people that don’t agree with them.
The rest – Sinn Fein are a party so perfectly suited to being in opposition that it’d almost be a shame to see them fuck it up by gaining power. They disagree with every proposal put forward by the government. They suggest nothing with even a shred of feasibility. They shout “no” so much it’s hard not to compare them with Rev. Ian Paisley. The problem of course is that they’re hugely popular. You see, when times get tough people start to get desperate, and vote with their hearts instead of their heads. Sure, the SF candidate may think that the economy will magically un-break itself if we adopt the north (HA!), but sure this 25 euro an hour minimum wage sounds like great craic! It’s for this reason – a desparate belief in the kind of crazy promises SF are best at – that they’re poised to pick up more seats than ever before in the upcoming locals. They have the perfect blend of campaign money, established names, and no attachment to any of the previous gobshites that will make them a force to be reckoned with.
UNITED LEFT ALLIANCE / PEOPLE BEFORE PROFIT / PEOPLE’S POPULAR SOCIALIST FRONT OF JUDAEAN PEOPLE
Leader – Depends on what you mean by “leader”
Alignment – Left, further left, further left again, left a bit, there it is, no a bit further THERE. FAR left. There we are.
The good – Proper liberals with proper ideals. Highly intelligent and seemingly interested with worknig class issues such as mortgage arrears, water charges, and property tax.
The bad – The ULA (and its splinter group that’s still inside it, United Left) was an amalgamation of the Socialist Party (who left in January last year), the WUAG (who left 4 months before that), People Before Profit (formed of former Socialist Party members), and ex-labour party members (from labours DL / socialist wing)….confused yet? Rudderless doesn’t even begin to describe the ULA. It takes three socialists to make a party, and their first order of business is usually to break in half.
The rest – Virtually no presences outside Dublin, the ULA seems to be a kind of halfway house for the left wing in Ireland. It’s a shame too, because the right is growing in structure (see below). How exactly candidates think running for local councils is going to help them oppose national taxes is beyond me. As per usual, and as in most countries, the hard lefts biggest foe is their own inability to think before they speak. Clare Daly has an amazing gift of being simultaneously 100% correct and STILL sounding liek a 15 year old that’s just bought his first Che t-shirt.
Leader – Lucinda “Cindy” Creighton. Or she would be, if the party existed.
Alignment – So far right that Dana looks like a hippy.
The good – Stood on principle, left Fine Gael despite the immediate loss of party backing because of their opposition to any form of abortion.
The bad – Apart from the fact that what they believe in is diametrically opposed to what I believe in, they still maintain that the party doesn’t exist and that they’re merely hanging out together with nobody else for no reason, and not up to anything.
The rest – Much like the independents, cynics like myself would say that the RA deputies saw which way the wind was blowing and jumped ship. It’s no secret that Fine Gael are going to take an absolute arse-kicking in the next election, and this little talking shop has given some of the more forward-thinking rats a new ship to jump to.
NATIONAL INDEPENDENT PARTY
Leader – Martin Critten
Alignment – Right-wing
The good – Apparently calling for drastic changes to entire political system
The bad – At best idiots, at worst fascists. Mr Critten has proposed a two year ban on immigration (despite the fact that this means being kicked out of the EU, having to take all 300,000 of our emigrants back, and absolute financial destruciton of the state). What makes this hilarious is that he moved here from England himself about 9 years ago, making him of course an immigrant. Luckily, he’s proposed a march on “leicester house”. Oh dear. Oh dear indeed.
The rest – There was always a vacuum in Ireland for the crazies to poke their heads up. Britain went through this phase a few years ago with UKIP, like a teenager trying drugs. Luckily, Britain can’t handle her smack, and the UKIP is slowly turning into a laughing stock. Still, I suppose it’s good that the lunatic fringe have a banner to stand under. Makes them easier to spot.
Leader – nope!
Alignment – nope!
The good – Democracy truly in action. One man/woman, standing alone, outside the political party system. Away from the cronyism and the lies, the team orders and the whip. Standing for their constituents, for freedom, for democracy itself.
The bad – None of that ever actually happens.
The rest – The indies have quadrupled in numbers in the dail in the last 10 years, simply because the parties are so unpopular and – dare i say it – shit at their jobs. Sadly, most never truly leave. Consider “independent” Jackie Healy Rae, who always votes along FF party lines. Similarly, Cindy and the Jesus Crew in the RA are currently helping to vote along with Edna. And our truly independent indies? Bellends and pilllocks like Ming Flanagan and Mick Wallace, both too short-sighted to see that influence comes by winning the game,not by standing on the sidelines shouting “why can’t i play”. Expect to see every headcase with a few spare weeks and no shame looknig for your vote, because there’s a huge gap in the political landscape and nature hates a vacuum – even if it ends up full of cockroaches.