As we head into polling day, there appears to be only one certainty and that is the uncertainty of Friday’s election results.
We do not know if we will have a real and sustainable government come Saturday night.
How did we arrive in a situation where we, possibly, stand on the brink of a ‘hung parliament’? After all, it’s the worst possible time that this could occur. Yet, it’s been coming for a long time.
A teenager ‘suggested’ a few days ago to Tánaiste Joan Burton that she should “shove her water charges up her fiscal space”. It said it all. It speaks to disrespect.
That is the disrespect that people have for politicians and those who have apparently gained unseemly from the nation’s successes which were achieved on the back of the efforts of the ordinary people.
It also speaks to the apparent disrespect that our politicians have for the ordinary people of Ireland.
Joan Burton was happy to stand in and have a ‘selfie’ with the teenager, but when his questions on Irish Water apparently became too awkward, she chose to walk away.
Unfortunately, most of us cannot simply walk away. We have invested our lives directly or indirectly in this economy and we have paid dearly for the privilege.
Some would argue that they have paid far more than their fair share whilst they see others who seem to have led a charmed life.
The tens of thousands of young people who will have the opportunity to vote tomorrow will have grown up in a world that is far more materialistic than the one many of us grew up in. They have had access to things many of us could not even dream about.
They are also more idealistic and probably even more fair minded than us older folk. What types of governments have we had over the last 30 years? How successful have they been in ensuring the poor, the sick, and the weak are looked after? We do not have to look very far for the answer.
The end result could be that tomorrow night, we will be in a unique position for this country in that we may well not even be able to cobble together a government, never mind one that will be able to overcome the considerable problems that our economy faces.
Just when we need strong government we might end up with a terribly weak one whose cohesion may depend on the whim of an individual politician.
We will have, in effect, an unstable government.
Our economy is substantially sustained on the thousand or so multinational companies that have made Ireland their base for accessing the European market and further afield. We, the people of Ireland through government agencies, have worked hard to attract these companies to these shores and to keep them here.
However, instability in the way the country governed, in the way decisions are made, and uncertainty in the type of decisions that will be taken, will go a long way to curtail any future investment and even result in existing investment being moved elsewhere.
Already a massive part of our exports, our balance of payments, comes from a few of these multinational sectors. Indeed, it could be argued that we are too dependent on these companies and sectors. It is something we need to work on for the future but right now we must protect what we have.
Our economy is not irreversibly fixed. Politicians might like us to believe that it is, or that it is if we elect their particular brand of government, but it is far from it. We continue to borrow extensively to stand still.
We have massive public and private debt. The Chinese economy is in trouble, global share prices tumbled recently again and Britain is on the verge of withdrawing from the EU.
Our economy does not ever need instability, but right now it could be compared to lemmings running over the top of a cliff.
It may seem overly melodramatic but tomorrow your vote will be very important in deciding the future direction of this country and the continued success of our economy — on which your job or your job prospects will depend. Use it wisely.
As Lord Kitchener said over 100 years ago: ‘Your Country Needs You’.
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