Questioning politicians, plus ca change?

Posted: May 18, 2014 in news
Tags: , , , ,


At the end of this coming week Irish voters will have the opportunity to cast their vote in two ballots; one for local elections and another one for European Parliament elections. In the lead-up to these elections almost every lamppost in Ireland has sprouted one or more election posters. The majority of these posters are wonders of misinformation showing only an image of the politician and the word “VOTE”. No mention of why someone would actually vote for one politician over the other. Should one vote on the number of a candidates posters or the proximity to ones house?

As I value the right to vote and want to ensure that my vote is an informed one I decided to email all candidates in both elections a short list of questions. Most of the questions were based on principle issues as this weighs much heavier for me than questions on specific issues. I could have asked the candidates for the local elections on how they would fix potholes or something parochial like that but in my these issued should be dealt with no matter where the candidates political alliance lies.

So on Monday May 12th I sent the candidates for the local elections in my constituency 5 questions. Well actually I sent it to all but one. For one candidate it proved impossible to find an email address, no matter how much searching I did.  That in itself would make me not vote for them. Anyway, here’s the list of questions I sent them. Some have limited answers, and yes the questions are opinionated but these are issues which matter to me.

  • What is your position on the subject of abortion, are you pro-life or pro-abortion?
  • Do you support the proposed constitutional amendment which would legislate for same-sex marriage?
  • Do you support or oppose the changes to the Junior Certificate curriculum?
  • What is your position on income redistribution and matters such as a “wealth tax”?
  • Should the Irish government play a leading or a supporting role in job creation?

As of today, nearly a week later and with the elections 5 days away I have not received a reply from a single candidate. Not even an acknowledgment that they have received my email and deal with it when they have the time.

I had one single canvassing team call to my door however. I pounced on them like a starving vulture would pounce on a dying wildebeest on the African savannah. “What is your candidates election manifesto?” I asked. The reply? ” Well eh, erm….erm….He’s local!”. Also “He has a lot of projects but just needs some more time to finish them”. That was the extent of their campaigning. What was even more disconcerting was their total surprise at being asked questions about their candidates political agenda. Did nobody else ask these questions?!

On to the candidates for the European Elections. Surely they would be more informed and of a higher calibre. Right?

I emailed these candidates a slightly adapted list of questions:

  • What is your position on the subject of abortion, are you pro-life or pro-abortion?
  • What is your position on the subject of same-sex marriage? Are you for, against or is this an area which should not be legislated by a government?
  • What is your position on income redistribution and matters such as a “wealth tax”?
  • Should the Irish & EU government play a leading or a supporting role in job creation?
  • In your opinion, did Ireland receive a bailout from the “Troika” or did Ireland provide a bailout for banks and bondholders?

The response was overwhelming.

Last Friday I received a reply from Jim Higgins a candidate for Fine Gael. Jim replied to 3 questions, asked for more clarification on one and failed to reply on another one. All in all I have to commend Jim as he so far has more respect for his constituents than any of the other candidates. Unfortunately his party (FG) is the one which is trying to push through liberal abortion legislation and in doing so is breaking one of their election promises.

None of the other EU election candidates has so far.

So basically things haven’t changed, in spite of the economic crisis, the multiple revelations of public sector incompetence and the growing awareness by people of public and private affairs, politicians still think they can win elections by handshaking and kissing babies.


  1. IOK says:

    You’re asking the wrong questions of both sets of candidates. No local govt member will ever have a say on the issues you raise. The Euro candidates might have something to say on the last two, but probably not.

    Mind you, they should have public positions on most/all of these questions. But all most people look for is the initials of the party name.

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