Saturday, June 6, 2009

The ‘swing to the left’; a protest vote or a genuine shift?

The nationwide ‘swing to the left’ was mirrored in the Crumlin-Kimmage ward, and indeed all over Dublin today.

At the time of writing, Cllr Eric Byrne (Labour) was topping the poll, with the second Labour candidate Henry Upton (nephew of Mary Upton TD and son of the late Pat Upton TD) also polling strongly. People Before Profit (PBP) candidate Cllr Joan Collins, who stood as an independent anti-bin tax candidate in the last local elections and general elections, also looks set to take a council seat. The last seat looks set to be taken by Fine Gael’s Ruari McGinley of Fianna Fail’s Charlie Ardagh, after The Tallaght Echo reported that Sinn Fein’s Ray McHugh “looks crestfallen as he appears to have lost his seat” (via Twitter at 1.12pm). I must congratulate The Tallaght Echo on their regular twitter updates from the National Basketball Arena. The updates direct from the count gave voters a view they would not otherwise have got.

Further south, PBP’s Boyd Barrett is topping the polls in Dun Laoghaire (after he narrowly missed out in the last general election) and Hugh Lewis (also PBP) is also looking good for a seat in Ballybrack. Brid Smith (PBP) took 81% of the first preference vote in Ballyfermot, ahead of former Lord Mayor of Dublin Vincent Jackson.

Mick Murphy of the Socialist Party looks set to retain his seat in Tallaght Central, as does party colleague Ruth Coppinger in Mulhuddart. Former Socialist TD Joe Higgins is polling very strongly across Dublin in the race for the third MEP seat. Mr Higgins took 27% of the first preference vote in Fingal and according to Newstalk was topping the polls this morning across Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown.

The question that the Socialist Party and People Before Profit (as well as Workers’ Party and other leftist parties) must now consider is this; Is this ‘shift’ in voting patterns from the centre to the left as a result of a genuine dissatisfaction with the staid civil war politics of Ireland or is it as a result of a ‘protest vote’ (a kind of ‘anybody but Fianna Fail’ vote)?

Of course, the rise of the smaller leftist party can be directly put alongside the demise of the Green Party, who look set to lose out on a massive scale in Dublin.

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