Sunday 20 January 2019

Andrew Lynch: A lacklustre campaign from politicians but voters can make the result sensational

Everyone agrees that this is one of the most important general elections of our lifetimes.

So why have the politicians failed to give us a campaign worthy of the occasion?

Even for those of us addicted to the Leinster House soap opera, the last three and a half weeks have been a bit of a slog -- which means it's now up to the voters to restore some badly needed excitement.

There are several reasons for why this campaign never really took off.

The opinion polls have removed much of the suspense, suggesting that Enda Kenny is a racing certainty to become Taoiseach and the only question left is whether or not he'll need Labour's support.


The arrival of the IMF means that no party is in a position to make any wild promises, in stark contrast to the tax-cutting auction that we had in 2007.

Above all, everybody seems exhausted by the drama of the last few months and nobody has even come close to capturing the public imagination.

Unusually for an Irish election, policies have been more important than personalities.

Micheal Martin is suddenly the most popular of all the party leaders, but that won't stop Fianna Fail taking an almighty hammering tomorrow.

Kenny's ratings remain abysmally low, but Fine Gael is still on course for its biggest victory ever.

The bottom line is that voters apparently find FG's economic strategy of a "short, sharp shock" more credible than any of the alternatives.

As a result, they're prepared to put up with Kenny's shaky grasp of detail in the hope that his team will do the heavy lifting for him.

That's not exactly an ideal situation -- but with the country now reliant on the kindness of strangers in Brussels, beggars can't be choosers.

After so many elections where we had just one or two televised leaders' debates, this time there was a whole rash of them. Instead of shaking things up, however, they proved to be largely lacklustre affairs that failed to produce any defining moments.

At first Kenny seemed to have done himself some damage by chickening out of a showdown with Vincent Browne, but in fact the polling evidence suggested that nobody really cared one way or the other.

No matter how disillusioned you feel, however, there is absolutely no excuse for not using your vote tomorrow.


As recent events in Egypt and Libya have shown, democracy is such a precious thing that some brave people are still prepared to die for it.

If you stay at home tomorrow, you forfeit your right to complain about whatever the Government does for the next five years.

This election is set to make history, just not in the way that some people had hoped.

Nobody will get too excited about the transfer of power from one conservative Civil War party to another.

However, the expected collapse of Fianna Fail will give the next Dail a completely new complexion -- and with almost half of the 166 TDs likely to be first-timers, the mould of Irish politics will be well and truly broken.

If the polls are correct and FG falls just short of an overall majority, then Kenny will have to make his first crucial decision before the weekend is out. Should he try to form a single-party government with the aid of a few right-wing Independents, allowing him to implement his policies without any interference from Labour?

Or should he swallow his pride and invite Eamon Gilmore in for talks, producing a stable government with a massive majority and a great chance of being re-elected in 2016?

Thanks to the politicians, this election campaign has been a disappointment. Thanks to the voters, however, the result could yet be sensational.

Make sure you play your part in it.

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