irish politics

What if there was an election and nobody won?

Guys, if I can briefly distract your attention from the ongoing flaming six-train pileup that is the US elections I need you to take a look at what’s happening in Ireland right now.

What’s happening in Ireland?

We had an election, and nobody won.

What? How is that even possible? Did nobody vote?

On the contrary, turnout this election was a very healthy 60%, down from 2011 but still high for a country where voting isn’t mandatory.

So what’s the problem?

Okay, a little background. Ireland elects the Dáil (our parliament) with the Proportional Representation: Single Transferable Vote. It’s the system that most accurately reflects the views of voters and using it makes the Dáil one of the most democratic legislatures in the world. Compare that to our upper house, the Seanad, which isn’t even fully elected and is probably the least democratic legislature in the developed world. Ireland: A land of contrasts. Basically in PR:STV you are allowed to not simply vote for your favourite candidate but to rank all the candidates in order of preference. This allows people to vote for smaller parties that better align with their politics without worrying that their vote will help parties they disagree with (think, being able to vote for Nader without worrying that you’re helping Bush to win).

That sounds super complicated.

It’s really not. You put a 1 by your favourite candidate, a 2 by your second and so on. Easy peasy.

No, I didn’t mean the voting, I meant the counting the vote.

That is SUPER complicated, yes. It’s a Lovecraftian, nightmare inducing madness but hey, I just vote so it’s not my problem. Although if you’re interested, this video explains the whole process better than I ever could.

So what happened?

The people cast their ballot and at the end the vote looked like this:


Holy shit that’s a lot of parties. What am I even looking at?

Okay, so the blue bar at the top is Fine Gael, currently in government in coalition with the Labour party (the lighter red bar). Second down is Fianna Fáil who’ve been the party of government for most of Ireland’s history but were banished to the land of ghosts and shadows in the 2011 election because the 2008 crash happened on their watch. They’ve bounced back in a huge way this election because apparently a quarter of the country suffered some kind of head trauma that effects medium term memory. The bright patriotic green guys three rows down are Sinn Féin who are ABSOLUTELY NOT AFFILIATED WITH THE I.R.A. IN ANY WAY AND NEVER HAVE BEEN.


And below them? That big long black 13%? The independents, just ordinary men and women without even a party who managed to collectively come in fourth over all.


#2 Jack Lynch

Name: Jack Lynch
Party: Fianna Fáil
Terms: November ’66-March ’73, July ’77-May ’79
So remember when Michael Jordan quit basketball and became a baseball player as depicted in the documentary Space Jam? Imagine if, instead of being awful, he had gone on to become one of the best players in that sport too. Then imagine he ran for election and became one of the most popular presidents in US history. That’s pretty much Jack Lynch.
He was terrib;e

Also, instead of Bugs Bunny, Jack Lynch was aided by Daithí Lacha, Ireland’s first cartoon character. He was terrible.


Every Taoiseach-Worst to Best: Introduction

Probably the single greatest blog I’ve ever come across is Wait But Why, run by two dudes named Tim Urban and Andrew Finn. It’s the kind of blog that makes other bloggers really, really, really depressed, that’s how good I’m talking here. The kind of blog that blows your mind while giving your funny bone an enthusiastic reach-around. Anyway, WBW is currently in the middle of ranking all 44 American Presidents (give or take a Grover) and that got me thinking, why has no one ever done something similar for the Taoisigh?
Nobody cares
Well I care, dagnabbit. So here it is, my list of every Taoiseach ranked from worst to best, here we go…
Uh, Mouse? What are you doing?
Ah. As I’m aware that the vast majority of my readership consists of perfidious yanks friends from across the water perhaps some explanation is in order.
Yeah. What’s a…no, back up a step. How do I pronounce  Taoiseach?
You don’t. I mean c’mon. Look at this.
That, my friends, is a trackless jungle of hidden vowel sounds, treacherous guttarals and untameable sibbilants. You even attempt that word and the chances are your saxon tongue will spasm into a knot and choke you. I don’t want that on my conscience. However, “tee-shock” is close enough to be getting on with.
Okay, so what’s a Tee-shock?
Easily offended golf-balls.
No, no, but seriously folks. Ireland, being a republic, has a president as its head of state but in truth the office of President is largely (although not totally) ceremonial. Irish presidents spend most of their time opening museums, visiting other heads of state and trying to find ways to fill the long, empty hours.
Our current president, for instance, spends his nights making shoes for kindly cobblers.

Our current president, for instance, spends his nights making shoes for kindly cobblers.