For the past few weeks there’ve been loads of posters on the streets showing heads of different Irish politicians. Obviously elections were coming up! From what I’ve seen, PR for the politicians is by far not as mad as in the US nor Germany. I think people were still more bummed about Liverpool losing that soccer (ok, football…) match than they were excited about the elections yesterday. I did actually see one cutie politician campaigning in a shopping centre and by his looks alone I would have voted for him but well I’m not Irish. 😉 So girls, check him out.
Anyways, this article on yahoo was pretty interesting as it explained some of the backgrounds and the preliminary results of yesterday’s election:
Ahern favored in Ireland parliament vote
By SHAWN POGATCHNIK, Associated Press Writer
DUBLIN, Ireland – The Fianna Fail party of Prime Minister Bertie Ahern took most of the vote in Ireland’s parliamentary election, but it was unclear whether that was enough to keep one of Europe’s longest-serving leaders in power, an exit poll indicated Friday.
The survey by national broadcasters RTE gave Fianna Fail 41.6 percent of Thursday’s vote and its closest rival, Fine Gael, 26.3 percent.
The left-wing Labour Party, which is allied with Fine Gael, received nearly 9.9 percent, while Fianna Fail’s longstanding partner in coalition government, the Progressive Democrats, had 2.6 percent.
The exit poll showed the Green Party with 4.8 percent, Sinn Fein with 7.3 percent and independents with 7.5 percent.
The results showed a razor-thin margin of difference between two potential coalitions: the Fianna Fail-Progressive Democrat alliance and the Fine Gael-Labour-Green.
The elections have been the most competitive in decades, raising the possibility of a “hung” parliament in which nobody commands a majority. Analysts say any of the smaller parties in parliament could end up with the balance of power.
“If these figures come to pass, it does seem that Fianna Fail would be in a pole position,” said Dan Boyle, a Green Party lawmaker.
At stake is whether Ireland’s center-right government will turn left.
For the past decade, Ahern’s partners have been the Progressive Democrats, who are liberal on social issues but champions of U.S.-style private enterprise and low taxes. That agenda has helped make Ireland — for centuries a mass exporter of immigrants — the European hub of more than 1,000 multinational companies and the world’s No. 1 exporter of software.
The campaign has revealed an Ireland increasingly unsettled by the side effects of its success.
Hundreds of thousands of Eastern European immigrants now compete with unionized labor. Property prices have quadrupled in a decade, forcing young families to live in distant suburbs. A 5.1 percent inflation rate runs ahead of a national wage-pact agreement. And schools, roads and hospitals have been unable to cope with the booming population.
One or more left-wing parties could end up cutting a coalition deal with either Ahern, 55, and his Fianna Fail party or his main rival Enda Kenny, the head of the Fine Gael party.
Fianna Fail and Fine Gael trace their roots to opposing sides in the 1922-1923 civil war that followed Irish independence from Britain. Both stick to the middle ground of opinion, taking on the flavor of whichever smaller party on the left or right helps them reach a majority.
Kenny — whose Fine Gael has finished second to Fianna Fail in every election since the 1930s — has promised to expand hospital services and resolve chronic overcrowding, fund free medical care for children under 5 and hire 2,000 more police.
Fine Gael depends on a painstakingly negotiated joint platform with the left-wing Labour Party, whose leader, former Marxist Pat Rabbitte, is renowned as one of Ireland’s most articulate politicians.
Although Rabbitte has insisted for months he would not work with Ahern’s Fianna Fail, he did not rule out the possibility as he cast his vote Thursday.
“I remain convinced we ought to change the government and that means changing the two parties that comprise the present coalition. So I don’t look forward to the prospect of Labour being asked to put Fianna Fail back in office,” said Rabbitte, while leaving the possibility open.
Any coalition would have to reach 83 seats in the 166-seat Dail Eireann parliament to form a majority.
Kenny, 56, insists he will not run for office again if he fails to achieve his campaign goals.
One left-wing party is desperate to cut a deal with Fianna Fail — the long-sidelined Sinn Fein, the party linked to the outlawed Irish Republican Army.
Sinn Fein is pushing to end its longtime fringe status in the Irish Republic, but Ahern says Sinn Fein is incompatible because it is too left-wing, not because of its IRA links. Ahern pushed hard for Sinn Fein to gain power this month in a new government for the neighboring British territory of Northern Ireland.
The Lansdowne Market Research survey, which involved interviewing 3,000 voters and had a margin of error of 2.5 percentage points.
Final results are unlikely until Saturday because of a complex system that allows voters to rate candidates in order of preference and requires ballots to be counted up to a dozen times.