Una Mullally: SF is tapping into young people imagining something different
This election is rooted in the recession, housing crisis, and the politicisation of young people
On the eve of the election, two leaflets dropped through my letterbox in Dublin Central in quick succession. One was a letter from Joe Costello, thanking residents in the area for their courtesy towards him and his canvassers in the course of the campaign. The other was from Paschal Donohue, which concluded “protect our country and your job from Sinn Féin”. Maybe that message would work in a middle-class area where Sinn Féin had a marginal chance of nicking a final seat, but this is Mary Lou McDonald country, where thousands would be voting for her the following day.
What this demonstrates is how Fine Gael had lost it. When their campaign flopped in the initial days, they spent the remaining weeks attacking both Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin, and forgot to tell the electorate what they were about. For his part, Leo Varadkar had a decent campaign, appearing personable and competent. But Fine Gael’s problems run far deeper. The party pretends not to have an ideology, that its aura and experience of privilege is merely the default, but the electorate has clearly objected to how the country is being rebuilt after the initial recession-era emergency.