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Tag Archives: presidential election

You know, I’ve been listening to analysts all day twisting and turning as they try to find trivial reasons for the result of the Irish presidential election. Perhaps the explanation is quite simply encouraging for those who wish that people voted in support of arguments, ideas, political perspectives, ideologies rather than the gossipy nonsense that journalists go on with.

Look at it this way: By last weekend more people had opted to support Seán Gallagher’s liberal, business approach than Michael D. Higgins’s socialist approach but then during a televised political debate, a value deeper than a political perspective intruded.

Now that I think about it, this is how I, a socialist, decide my candidate preferences and why should someone who might be my polar opposite behave any differently? You see, there are issues which take precedence over voting either left or right. My first test is political murder; its apologists are least preferable of all. My next test is honesty and integrity and candidates who fail this test rate above apologists for murder but no higher. My next test places those too trivial to be considered in a real political choice. Finally, I choose the left candidate over the right wing candidate.

Think about a right-winger who accepts Seán Gallagher’s political argument. That person very likely values honesty and integrity more than the liberal business perspective. Now, he or she sees Seán Gallagher fail this test while polling suggests that the Christian Democrat, Gay Mitchell, has little support and will not figure in the outcome. There really is nothing to do but cross from right to left in order to vote for honesty and integrity.


Deciding for whom to vote in the Presidential election has been relatively easy for me. Candidates fill my list of preferences from the bottom up by failing a series of tests. My tests start with the elimination of apologists for murder, then move on to a demand that a candidate rise above the trivial, that a candidate be honest and have integrity, that a candidate be liberal on matters of sexuality etc. and that a candidate not be blind to policy outside of markets and liberal business orthodoxy. As the others fill up the bottom of the list, Michael D. Higgins remains to take my number one.

However, not everyone – probably not even a majority – would agree with my tests or the order of priority in which I put them.

Imagine that you are conservative on what might be called, personal morality, but you are liberal on business matters, that you demand honesty and integrity, that you despise the trivial in public discourse and that you are utterly opposed to political murder. Now, you come to vote in the presidential election and your views have to be prioritised because you can’t find a candidate with whom you identify. Here’s a probable hierarchy which you might erect: Test 1. A candidate must oppose political murder; Test 2. A candidate must be honest and have integrity; Test 3. A candidate must not trivialise politics; Test 4. A candidate must favour liberal markets; Test 5. A candidate must support “family” values. After tests 1, 2 and 3, just two or possibly three candidates remain. The two obvious survivors are Gay Mitchell and Michael D. Higgins. A possible third survivor is David Norris. * This is interesting because it suggests that you will vote for a Christian Democrat (Gay Mitchell) and express a preference for a socialist (Michael D. Higgins) over the others. Assuming that Gay Mitchell will be eliminated, you will have contributed to the election of a socialist!

Of course I accept that this is a presidential election and that routine tests of suitability do not appear above. I’ve assumed that all of the candidates know how to behave in public and either know or can learn the constitutional requirements.

* I find David Norris doubtful not because I question his honesty but because increasingly I fear that he is trivial. Now, it may be argued that we live in a post-ideological age and that he is a typical issues candidate. That’s not an argument that I want to address here. For now, consider me a dinosaur who still wants a clash of great ideas, contested notions of the good society etc., and I’m also a dinosaur who has grown weary of people claiming to be anti-establishment, while steering well clear of offering an overall perspective.