Wednesday, September 17, 2008

So who would I vote for in Ireland now?

As I wrote in my previous post With St. Patrick's Day looming, if I were a voter in the Republic of Ireland I would vote for the Progressive Democrats. It seems I would have to look for a new party soon. Since their drubbing at the last election the PDs have gone through a process of reappraisal, uncertainty and decline, and now the party's leader has announced that all the parliamentarians unanimously agree the party is no longer viable. (RTÉ News: PD conference to decide party's future)

The PDs have had an impact on Ireland out of all proportion to their electoral size. By promoting strong free market economics and low taxation they have a large share of the responsibility for turning Ireland into the economic powerhouse it is today. They have been prepared to challenge taboos - remember Mary Harney's famous comment that Ireland should be closer to Boston than Berlin? Or Michael McDowell's staunch attacks on Sinn Féin, going beyond what members of Fianna Fáil would say. The PDs can also claim another first in that the current Fianna Fáil-Progressive Democrats-Green government may well be the first centre right-liberal-green "Jamaica coalition" government in the world (even if the parties don't use the same colours as the relevant German ones). If the party does decide to disband it will be a pity for Ireland as a whole.

So if they go who would I vote for? The last time I looked Fine Gael was the next answer, but their coalitions with Labour could be too great a hurdle. Fianna Fáil scored lower than Labour but as one of the questions was whether I agreed with the statement "Charles Haughey was a good Taoiseach" the test may not have been the most refined. (Who would devise a British quiz with "Margaret Thatcher was a good Prime Minister" as one of the questions?) Fortunately as I'm not a voter there I don't need to decide, but it's an interesting one to ponder.

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