Archives for posts with tag: Irish General Election

A few days ago, during the General Election, I tweeted this:

It got a lot of retweets because the politicians I mentioned represent the extreme cases of those who are less interested in national politics than they are about pandering to the needs of their own local community. They are caricatures, easily lampooned and despised. To them, it’s all about Kerry and Tipperary, and the rest of the country can take a running jump.

But, honestly, I’m somewhat conflicted about all this. While I despise the gombeen image, I think the local nature of politics in this country serves us very well.

It’s important, I think, that we know the people we are voting for. If someone is effective on a local level, then we get to see through the slogans. We get an insight into the people themselves. We derive something about their character. The voting process can winnow the best of these from the less able. In the main, good people are sent to Leinster House.

Another thing to celebrate is that our political process is rooted in the life and history of our country.  We are never more than 10 feet away from a local politician here. This helps to mitigate the sense of disenfranchisement so keenly felt across the Western world. In Knocknaheeney, a deprived suburb of Cork I drive through almost every day, there was a palpable sense of energy in the run-up to the election. The next Dáil will contain many people who will represent the voices of the deprived, and this is a good thing.

The system can result in narrow-minded councillors topping the polls, but what’s amazing is that, more often than not, it delivers quite good people too. Michael Lowry, Mattie McGrath and the Healy-Raes represent the extreme of our local system, but that doesn’t mean that the system in general is dreadfully wrong. It might actually be the best thing to come from 1916 – something that makes us who we are: democrats by instinct and nature.

Even though the next government is still uncertain, I am quite optimistic about the outcome. Ireland is not built for grand overthrows but evolutionary change is quite possible. Our local system of politics, with its abundant compromises and contact with the struggles of real people, makes such change possible.


If you would like to vote someone in, vote for them.

If you would not like someone in, vote for anybody but them.

If you don’t want any of them in, and you are not considering voting at all, why didn’t you run for parliament yourself then?

Just remember, if you don’t vote, then you don’t get to complain about the next government because you, by your inaction, helped to put them there.

I want to test the Wisdom of Crowds theory that I talked about some time ago, so what better example than the fast approaching Irish General Election? I decided yesterday evening to spend some time looking at Paddy Power’s betting on the outcome, candidate by candidate.

Based strictly on the odds being offered and the number of seats available, the analysis breaks down this way:

Fianna Fail: 72-73*

Fine Gael: 49-50

Labour: 16-18

Green: 9

Sinn Féin: 8

Progressive Democrats: 2

Others: 8

(In two constituencies, Wicklow and Kerry South, the odds were the same for last place, so I have shown a range instead of a single number).

If this were true, high profile casualties would include Ruairi Quinn, Joan Burton, Donie Cassidy, Jackie-Healy Rae, Niall Blaney, Tom Parlon, Liz O’Donnell, Martin Mansergh and Michael Woods.

This scenario is something of a nightmare for the two major political alliances. It leaves Fianna Fail and the PD’s with 75 seats and a “rainbow” coalition of Fine Gael, Labour and the Greens with 77 seats: well shy of the 84 seats needed to form a new government. Both coalitions would need the support of independents and possibly even Sinn Féin.

If this prediction comes true, the only viable administration would be a Fianna Fáil / Labour alliance (and how long that would last is anyone’s guess).

In any case there is plenty of room for manoeuvre. The number of listed candidates that are almost certain to win is 75. 190 other candidates will have a fight on their hands if they are to win one of the remaining 91 seats**.

More detailed information on each candidate can be found in the attached PDF. Let’s see what transpires tomorrow, shall we?

Election Predictions 2007

* Rory O’Hanlon (FF) is already deemed elected since he was Ceann Comhairle (chairman) in the last Dáil.

** My calculations are based on a “definite” being a bet of 10-1 on (91%) or greater, and a “close call” being less than 10-1 on but greater than or equal to 4-1 (20%).

Update: I had to revise my calculations because I was previously showing probabilities of 2000%, etc, which is ridiculous – a probability can not be greater than one!

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