GE16 Red Lines: Who is left to vote for?

To the USians reading this: the election I’m talking about is the Irish general election- GE16-  on Friday. Not the Presidential election that you have in nine months. Our election campaign? Three weeks long. 

With one day to go before the election, I don’t know who I want to vote for. Who not to vote for? That’s easy, in a constituency that includes the founder of Identity Ireland. It’s an easy rule of thumb: if you’re being invited to speak at Pegida rallies, you don’t get a preference.

Picture of a candidate flyer supporting Peter O'Loughlin. It's annotated. By me. Suffice to say that I don't agree with his blatantly racist views.
That’s easy. Another easy one? Renua’s Paddy O’Leary. A flat tax? Three-strikes-and-life policy for crime? From a party that began when Lucinda Creighton couldn’t stomach dying women being able to access abortions?

A third easy No is Fine Gael’s Dara Murphy. I can’t conscience voting for someone whose response to being shown to be factually wrong is to buckle down, refuse to take on new information and to insult the person informing them. If he’ll behave like this with the country watching him, what’s he like working in private? Not to mention that he doesn’t seem to see the issue with heavily implying that he’s been personally giving hundreds of thousands of euro to local sports teams. Either he’s deliberately misrepresenting his actions, or else he’s trying to literally buy votes. Either way: I look for better judgement and awareness from my representatives.

Campaign poster for Dara Murphy. At the bottom it says: "Supporting Mayfield. Mayfield United'- €200,000. Mayfield GAA- €118,000"

My Red Line Goes Around My Own Body

Now that I’ve eliminated the easy ones, it comes to the hardest line for me to draw: no abortion referendum, no vote. If you won’t give me the right to vote for my right to choose, you don’t get my vote on Friday. To figure this one out, I went to, where you can select the issues that matter to you and find out whether you match up with candidates. It’s like an electoral OKCupid. You can choose which topics to answer questions on, which makes it easy to see what candidates have to say on what matters most to you. Here’s what happened when I looked specifically for abortion. 100% means they’re actually pro-choice.If a candidate matches 50%, it means they support repeal of the 8th Amendment (so some access to abortion, generally in cases of rape, incest, fatal fetal abnormality or threats to the life of the pregnant person. The zeroes? Entirely anti-choice and anti-abortion even in those restricted categories. Here’s what I got (for some reason Peter O’Loughlin isn’t in this list. However, he’s already out on grounds of his views on immigration, so never mind):

A screenshot of a list of candidates from GE16 showing the percentage of questions relating to abortion rights I agree with them on.

That cuts out all the Fianna Fail and Fine Gael candidates. Labour, the Greens and Sinn Fein are also on shaky ground. Am I comfortable giving a preference to someone simply because they wouldn’t force someone with a diagnosis of a fatal fetal abnormality to travel overseas and smuggle the remains of a much-wanted pregnancy home in the boot of their car? Do I really have to mark my line so low? And out of fourteen candidates, are there really only two who are openly pro-choice?

At this point I’m shaking my head sadly at the two (only two! Whatever happened to the gender quotas we heard so much about?) women standing for office. Neither of whom, it seems, trust themselves with the right to choose their own future.

More Matters of Ethics

So I try again. Looking for an excuse to have more than two possible preferences when I go to the ballot box tomorrow.

What about education? Surely more than two candidates will stand up for children’s’ right to secular public education.

WhichCandidate asked candidates two questions on this. Should schools be allowed to continue to give admission preference to children of a certain religious background? And should state-funded primary schools give children religious instruction?

I feel strongly that children have the right to be considered for admission to a public, state-funded school without suffering from religious discrimination. And that religious instruction is a private matter which all families and communities are free to provide for their children, outside of school hours. Our taxes should not go to discrimination or indoctrination.

It’s a simple question. It’s also one that goes to the heart of what kind of society we want to pass to the next generation.

I was disappointed. I went to the trouble of copying another screenshot- but you’ll have to take my word for it, since it’s almost identical to the last one.

Picture of the list of candidates in the Cork North Central constituency in order of how closely their views on religious education align with mine.

Again, only two candidates stand against a system which segregates, discriminates against, and indoctrinates children.

Another red-line issue for me? Accepting refugees. We cannot consider ourselves an ethical society if we don’t offer refuge to people without a safe place to live their lives. This picture is slightly better. I’ve more than two candidates to choose from, so I might get to those third and fourth preferences after all. Here’s the deal:

Picture of the candidates from Cork North Central constituency for GE16, in order of how closely their views align with mine on policy regarding refugees.

I promised myself I’d post this before lunchtime, so at this stage I haven’t gotten to the more complex questions. What about the economy, water, health, housing, and education? Has anyone got enough on any of those issues to get past an anti-choice position? I’m not sure. I don’t think I’ll know for certain until I mark that paper tomorrow.

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GE16 Red Lines: Who is left to vote for?

13 thoughts on “GE16 Red Lines: Who is left to vote for?

  1. 1

    I’m in Dublin Fingal, and I have three candidates (two of whom didn’t put their positions on WhichCandidate, but I know them from the literature) who agree with me on abortion, water, refugees, education, and religion in schools. Also on green energy, yay. So I can give a preference to Clare Daly, Barry Murphy, and Terry Kelleher.

    There’s one more candidate who agrees with me on abortion, but I am not convinced by the rest of her positions. But the rest of them? Pretty much not in favour of bodily autonomy, nope.

  2. 2

    Well you seem to have 2 candidates who agree 100% on the points you’ve looked at. You should be able to scrounge up a 3rd from people on the 50% line… but at a pinch, you can stop at 2 preferences.
    Or after your 2 soulmates, you can list everybody else who isn’t against abortion, in any order, just to help keep _those_ muppets out of the Dáil.
    I like the Irish transfer system. Can’t say the same for the current crop of candidates, but hey, there is always the old “anybody BEFORE X” resort…

    1. 2.1

      I do love the transfer system. Even if it does mean I have to compare every candidate against every other one instead of just picking who I like the best. I do appreciate being able to give preferences to people I don’t think will get in, and working my way down the least-bests until I hit the not in a million years candidates.

  3. 5

    Well, on the flip side, Irish parliamentary politics is Teh Dull. For entertainment value, I follow Italian politics. (Even USian politics is more entertaining than the Irish…)

    …however, this time around I’m going to enjoy watching Labour get a proper kicking.

    (Note: I am in fact Italian, for my sins. So I have a good excuse for following Italian politics, other than the craic.)

    On the OTHER flip side, Irish electoral results are definitely an entertaining spectator sport. Unfortunately a lot of it happens during the night, but the counts are worth following live (tv, radio or internet) — again it’s because of the transfer system, which means most constituencies have an element of suspence down to the last ballot re-counted 🙂

  4. 6

    The effort you put into choosing candidates mirrors the effort that my state occasionally puts me to evaluating ballot measures. Since my state of Oregon allows ballot measures to be put forward via citizen petition, sometimes we’ve had dozens of them and the Voter’s Handbook has been a centimeter thick. Occasionally we’ll even have multiple measures that deal with the same issue, which makes an intriguing puzzle for the legislature when more than one of them passes. Congratulations for taking your power and responsibility seriously. I wish more of my fellow countryfolk would do the same.

  5. 8

    I know I’m a bit late to the party, but I think that folks whose major road projects boast signs* saying “The project was 85% co financed by the European Union” shouldn’t complain too much about the financial aspects of the EU…

    *or did so 10 years ago.

    Also, complaining that foreign investment also benefits people who are not Irish seems a bit rich….

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