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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: February 25, 2011 @ 9:19 pm

    Pessimism of the Intellect, Optimism of the Will

    Deaglán de Bréadún

    At the request of the BBC, I made my way across Dublin city to a polling station in Drumcondra at 9am to talk on camera about the election. Even at that time there was a significant turnout. Looks like the vote will be very high: a lot of people are out for “vingeance”!

    The interviewer kept asking me if I was optimistic or pessimistic about Ireland’s future after the election. I said I was pessimistic, and only thought afterwards of Antonio Gramsci’s great line about “pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will”. Oh well, wouldn’t do to have the Great British public think I was a wild-eyed Irish radical.

    Back in my own constituency of Dublin South-Central later in the morning, it was a great feeling to be a citizen for once, playing a part in the drama instead of reporting on it. But when I saw the ballot-paper, it set me back. Half the population seems to be running as Independents in this election.

    Normally I like to vote the full list, putting the candidate whom I consider to be the  least able at the bottom so as to impede his/her progress. Frankly, it’s a pity the law has decreed that canvassers must give polling-booths a wide berth. It would be good to have had a little bit more information about the plethora of  Independents, for example, on the way in to vote.

    There were 18 candidates in this constituency and it took a bit longer than usual to work through the list. If I happen to meet any of the contenders, I can at least say: “I gave you a vote!”

    People who stay away for no reason other than apathy should be ashamed. Look at those youngsters braving machine-gun fire and grenades in the Middle East to protest for democratic rights. Yet here the system is taken for granted by a significant minority.

    Labour has put in a strong effort on the advertising front at the last minute. The free-sheet Metro had a Vote Labour wraparound today.  Labour billboards calling for a “balanced government – it’s only fair” are pretty widespread (the party also has ads in this newspaper’s print edition and on the website.)

    A friend who was close to the action in recent coalition governments texted me to say  the Progressive Democrats found that going into government when you are not really needed to make up the numbers has its downside. This was the case in 2004-2007 when the PDs were a fifth wheel on the chariot, so to speak.

    My friend writes: “If you can’t pull down the Govt, your bluff can be called. Labour would need to think hard!”

    I’ll stick with my forecast: FG 82, Lab 35, FF 25, SF 12, Ind/Others 12, GP 0.

    Get your prediction in now (but, sorry, no prizes for guessing.)

    • robespierre says:

      Deaglán, I have yet to meet a single person that didn’t vote in the election. They know nobody who didn’t vote in the election.

      My concern is that 5-6% of the register passes on between general elections and we have had the added issue of emigration in this election. The turnout in Dublin South East for instance is much lower than one would expect.

      I believe turnout was well into the 80s in percentage terms but the continuing issue with the register and its accuracy is undermining our democracy.


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