The Irish Times view on Election 2020: make your voice heard

Although the current economic outlook is favourable, there are storm clouds ahead that could throw the best laid plans off course

The right to vote and choose who governs us is a privilege a majority of the world’s population does not have so it should be taken very seriously. Photograph: RollingNews.ie

The right to vote and choose who governs us is a privilege a majority of the world’s population does not have so it should be taken very seriously. Photograph: RollingNews.ie

 

Before going to polling stations today, voters should reflect carefully about the kind of society they want to see developing in the years ahead and which candidates and parties are best positioned to deliver that. Local issues are always a consideration but the most important function of a general election is to provide the State with a government that can implement policies directed at the common good for all of its inhabitants.

During the election campaign, the out-going administration has pointed to its achievements on the economy and Brexit while Opposition parties have focused on its failure to reform the health system and do more to respond to the housing crisis. Voters have an obligation to weigh the arguments carefully and decide not simply who is offering the most appealing vision of the future but who is most capable of implementation.

All of the parties have made too many promises, some more extravagant and and some more risky from an economic perspective than others. Voters may have a difficult job in deciding which of the promises are affordable and capable of being delivered and which are not. The best policy is probably to take the most ambitious with a grain of salt. That said, citizens should not succumb to cynicism but they should be realistic in their choice. The right to vote and choose who governs us is a privilege a majority of the world’s population does not have so it should be taken very seriously. There is simply no excuse for not voting.

Whoever ends up with the responsibilities of office will face a number of serious challenges. Not only will they be expected to address the problems of the health service and housing supply which have dominated the campaign, they will have to do so in a manner that does not put the economy at risk of another crash.

Although the current economic outlook is favourable, there are storm clouds ahead that could throw the best laid plans off course. One is Brexit which hasn’t gone away as an issue just because the UK has left the EU. If British prime minister Boris Johnson is to be believed there is no guarantee of a mutually acceptable trade deal at the end of the year. That will have seriously negative consequences for this State.

There are a range of other issues including the climate crisis, the ongoing threat of an international trade war provoked by President Donald Trump and changes to the corporate tax regime which will reduce government revenues – the only question is when.

It is the nature of politics that whoever ends up in power will face one problem after another. As a result, the question facing voters today is two-fold: who has the most credibility and who is the most capable of steering the State through the crises that will inevitably arise in the years ahead.

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