Interesting developments from the Republic of Ireland, where the Presidential election campaign has seen a previously rank outside independent candidate sweep to odds-on favourite to replace Mary McAleese (not Robinson as I wrote at 2am through bleary eyes…)
According to an opinion poll conducted by ‘Red C’, the candidates for Labour, Fine Gael and Sinn Fein are trailing in the wake of Irish ‘Dragon’s Den’ entrepreneur, Sean Gallagher.
The former Fianna Fáil man is running as an independent and his stock is rising rapidly with Irish voters who are deserting the organised political parties.
- Independent – Sean Gallagher – 39%
- Labour – Michael D Higgins – 27%
- Sinn Fein – Martin McGuinness – 13%
- Fine Gael – Gay Mitchell – 8%
- Independent – David Norris – 7%
- Independent – Mary Davis – 4%
- Independent – Dana Rosemary Scallon – 2%
However not all is quite as it seems, as Gallagher is effectively running as an ‘arms length’ Fianna Fáil candidate. He is a mere Indeplastic – a cheap rip off of the real thing.
That political party, knowing it would get short shrift from voters, does not have an official candidate and has decided the way forward is to get behind a proxy ‘celeb’ candidate. It is a sign of weakness. Clearly the penny is dropping in Ireland that the interests of the political parties are not the same as the electorate and that voting for the usual suspects doesn’t result in the changes they demand. Fianna Fáil are wise to it, but will others change tack too?
If Gallagher wins the Presidency and takes up residence in the Áras it could signal the acceleration of the demise of political parties in Ireland. While that might be honey in the ears of the unelected bureaucratic dictators of the EU, it could see more people step up as genuine independent candidates – the kind of people who still want democracy and can’t be bought off by Brussels.
One thing is clear in this political era, we are at a critical juncture and everything is to play for. The question is, are we up for the battle?