Saturday, October 29, 2011

Political parties scarred by presidential election

Summer time ends in Ireland At 2.00 AM tomorrow morning and I will be en route to Moscow at 5.45 AM, an jour earlier than usual.  But the dark winter evenings should provide Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael with ample time to reflect on the presidential election results.

Fianna Fáil, battered by the general election, did not even contest the election and the party lost the only Dáil seat it held in Dublin in the by-election following the death of the Brian Lenihan.

However, Seán Gallagher, a political novice, who maintained that he was an Independent candidate and having consistently shown a 40% rating in the polls, saw his prospects collapse when it became clear that he was a fund raiser for Fianna Fáil but was not always entirely certain what the source of the funds raised was.

When he mentioned that ‘I may have picked up an envelope’ he sent a shudder through Irish society which reminded them of the venal record of Fianna Fáil and the fact that not all funds raised actually reached their intended target. Despite all of that Gallagher won 504,964 first preference votes which represented a 12% dip on his polling trend.

Fine Gael, now in Government, chose a candidate, Gay Mitchell, who garnered only 113,321 first preference votes – 6.4% of the poll while the party itself is trending in the mid thirties.  This was a diabolical result notwithstanding that one member of the party aristocracy, Leo Varadker, stated that “Gay Mitchell was a good candidate” and another blue blood, Phil Hogan stated that the outcome ‘was not a disaster for the Party’.  What defines a disaster for Hogan? A capacity to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory?  They insulted the electorate by choosing a non-viable candidate and then abandoning him.  The electorate will not forget that!

Mary Banotti contested the last presidential election in 1997 for Fine Gael and secured 372,002 first preference votes – 29.2% of the poll .

The Fine Gael candidate in the 1990 presidential election was Austin Currie.  He secured 267,902 first preference votes – 17% of the poll.

The drama queen, Dana Rosemary Scallon, won 51,220 first preference votes in this week’s election and this compares to 175,458 first preference votes when she inflicted herself on the electorate in the last presidential election in 1997.

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