Whilst glancing at Slugger O'Toole for details on other stories, I noticed that in the Republic of Ireland the Progressive Democrats have a new leader - Michael McDowell.
The Progressive Democrats are one of the few parties in the Republic without roots in the Civil War - indeed one of its favourite slogans is "breaking the mould of Irish politics", which may sound familiar to some. They were founded in the 1980s by politicians who left one of the big parties (anyone noting more similarities?) and are the Irish affiliates to the various European and international Liberal alliances (is there anyone who doesn't spot it not?). Ideologically they're probably closest to the Orange Book Liberal Democrats, although they're often labeled right-wing for both their economic policies and McDowell's record as Minister for Justice. They're probably the party I would vote for if I lived in the Republic, although given the nature of the coalition politics there I'm not sure I'd want a government dominated by Fianna Fáil over one dominated by Fine Gael.
McDowell has emerged as leader following discussions with other PD members of the Dail ("TDs"), rather than a bruising leadership contest that could have split the party. It seems to have been a very quick turnaround since the previous elader, Mary Harney, announced she was stepping down. Next to Harney McDowell is the best known of the PDs and should have no problems taking his party on a firm footing into the next election, due in 2007.
Meanwhile over here the PDs' counterparts, the Liberal Democrats, continue to meander all over the place with endless speculation about the leadership. They must feel so envious of the PDs!