Populism and protest votes
Sir, – Since our own recent election, it is funny how the mocking tone in The Irish Times toward the gullible British electorate seems to have evaporated. I was somewhat amazed to read Fintan O’Toole’s analysis of the unforeseen surge in votes for Sinn Féin, not as the populism which he has spent the last three years lampooning, but as “sensible” response to our complex and changing needs (“Irish voters’ actions are not populist – just sensible”, Opinion & Analysis, February 22nd).
The recent surge for Sinn Féin and the unpredicted vote for Peter Casey in the last presidential election demonstrates that the Irish electorate is just as credulous in today’s political landscape as voters have recently been in the UK and US. I believe our recent election is another example of a protest vote, mostly over the Government’s poor delivery on housing and the health service.
The real concern is that Mary Lou McDonald and Sinn Féin will try and repackage this protest vote as voter appetite for re uniting Ireland politically with the North. A policy ambition that they have no plan, empathy, cost-analysis or political skill to carry out.
That so many in the electorate may be willing to indulge them in this fantasy will drag this island into a political morass. A mess that will make Irish voters the bedfellows of those who enabled Brexit and Donald Trump. – Yours, etc,