Pat Leahy: the left prefers the purity of opposition to the compromises of power

A parliamentary bloc of 20-25 social democratic TDs would be at the centre of a bidding war between Martin and Varadkar, and could name its price

The current Dáil has about 20 members of small parties or Independents that would, I think, be members of the same broad centre-left party in most countries

The current Dáil has about 20 members of small parties or Independents that would, I think, be members of the same broad centre-left party in most countries

Judged on activity, visibility and participation, our democracy is in pretty good health as we approach the elections in three weeks’ time. There is scarcely a lamppost unadorned by the beauteous visages of our would-be representatives. The merciless hordes of canvassers knock on doors and stuff letterboxes. Somewhere in the region of 1,700 candidates will contest the local elections when the lists of candidates are finalised.

In the European elections the long lists of candidates attest to the numbers of people willing to have a go, most in the knowledge that they will not be elected but because they want to put their ideas out there and contribute to the process. Fair play to them – representative democracy doesn’t work without politicians prepared to have a go.

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