We are heading into the last week of the pre-election process, where our parties, groupings, and independents set out their wares in an effort to entice us to give them our vote on February 26.
This election is an extremely important one for Ireland as it will go a long way to determine whether we continue to correct the negative aspects of the recession and put the country back on a secure footing.
At this stage of an election, folk are usually fairly positive about who they will vote for or have a definite view on which government they would like to see in power. In the past, old allegiances could be considered strong indicators on which way a vote would go.
This time around there is no certainty. If the many conversations that I have had over recent weeks, combined with press reporting, are anything to go by, the real percentage of ‘don’t knows’ is far higher than it’s ever been. Indeed stalwart voters are questioning even if they will vote.
Why that should be is anybody’s guess. It could just be that more of us believe that whoever we elect, whatever party gets into power or whoever becomes taoiseach will have little bearing on how the country is run. There is much supporting that contention.
Prior to the last election, both Fine Gael and Labour told us of their intent to introduce a whole range of measures to take Ireland out of recession and put it back on solid ground. It was very much a case of anything Fianna Fáil did we will do differently. In addition, the new coalition said it would introduce greater transparency and tell Brussels and the ECB where to get off.
Unfortunately, we know that once the election was over, promises and commitments would go out the window, never to see the light of day. Not only did they not do what they promised but in fact stole the outgoing government’s clothes and went cap in hand to Europe for support. Whatever the ECB instructed them to do was met with the response: ‘Yes Sir, No Sir, three bags full, Sir’.
One of their number went so far as to virtually tell us that we were silly to believe their pre-election promises. The end result was that austerity continued with a vengeance.
The silly thing was that as we were so fed up with the outgoing government that its members were dead men walking and this coalition would have been elected anyway. Paddy might be a lot of things but he is not a fool.
In 2011, more of the same was never on the cards. It’s not five years later and we are listening to all of the same codswallop.
Those who succeeded to form a coalition in 2011 and went into government for the last five years are telling us that the future of this economy depends on their re-election.
Unfortunately, the coalition’s actions belie its real view. If the component parties really believed that they were as good as they say they were, they would not need to try to bribe us to re-elect them. Worse, they would not try to massage the numbers to make their ability look easier to achieve.
The other parties are no better as they promise to throw money and goodies around like confetti at a wedding if they are elected. However, while their stated overall ‘fiscal space’ is lower, their offering is not fully costed either.
To state once again, Irish people are not stupid. We know we owe tens of billions of euro. We know that we will continue to borrow billions into the future.
We know that the world economy is not thriving right now despite the low price of oil. We know that we are but a very small cog in the very large wheel that is the global economy. We know that we must be nimble to survive the impending uncertainties that await on the horizon.
Our government also knows of the possible pitfalls and how much we are impacted by global issues. Bullying or trying to scare us at this stage with threats doesn’t speak well to the strength of their propositions. Perhaps we should be even more worried?
The alternative is we go into the polling booths on Friday week and close our eyes and determine our votes with a pin. After all, monkeys with pins have been known to select winners better than experts in the stock exchange.
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