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Recent articles by Ronan, Joe, Chekov
This author has not submitted any other articles.Recent Articles about Ireland / Britain The Left
Anarchist Lens: The Clare Daly Affair Jan 30 13
On the results of the Irish June 2007 general election
ireland / britain | the left | opinion / analysis Tuesday May 29, 2007 21:06 by Ronan, Joe, Chekov - WSM - personal capacity
Croutons, ninjas and posterboys, an anarchist's election '07
These three pieces were written by Workers Solidarity Movement members for indymedia.ie about the results of the 2007 election and its impact on the left. See the WSM Election 2007 page at http://www.wsm.ie/election07 for what the WSM had to say in advance of the election.
Independent socialists and electoralism as a strategyby Ronan
As the dust recedes from the ballot box and the parties alternately lick their wounds and rest on their laurels it’s worth having a think about its consequences for the left in general and the radical left in particular. The small parties generally got a drubbing this time around, and of course, the left wing parties are all very much on the small side. The only winners are the centre right civil war parties of Fianna Fail and Fine Gael, if one is to judge political mood by elections then the left wing is in a sorry state all around. Despite anarchists talking up electoral non-participation this was one of the biggest turn outs in years, people turned up and turned right. Which is not of course to say they should have voted left, Labour the biggest party on the ‘left’ showed how much its left wing credentials matter to it by entering into a pre-election pact with Fine Gael, the law and order party, as in more laws, more orders. Even so, a high vote for Labour or Sinn Fein might have indicated some degree of dissatisfaction with the current state of things, not so.
A couple of addiitonal points by Joe
1. The SWP / PBP [IST] election results probably mean the rest of the left is going to have to treat them a little more seriously then before and then you do above. Barret gave people a surprise in coming close to scrapping in and Brid Smiths performance was respectable in particular in the context of John O'Neills or Ciaran Perry's [both Independent socialists]. And its not simply explained either by association with the bin tax struggle or soft pedeling (ok not mentioning) the 'S' word as Ciaran also followed a similar strategy and would have the same association. The result demonstrates the SWP are having some success with their new strategy.
In fact one of the difficulties for the trotskyist left coming out of the election is that. at least in terms of electoral support, there is no longer a reason to take the SP much more seriously than the SWP and when you throw in the relative performance in the north they are neck and neck. There outstanding political differences of what to call a regime that hasn't existed for 18 years and how to relate to a war that ended a decade ago seem like a rather poor argument for two separate organisations. I simplify of course but in particular as both have taken a major turn towards electoralism and now both have proved themselves competent at getting votes a lot of people have to be wondering if they would do better as one rather than two organisations.
2. The result has shown up the dangers of associating struggles with general elections. That is those who argued that we should make x an election issue (where X was the war, Tara or Rossport) have seen that strategy backfire as the reduced vote of the left can and is being used to argue that those struggles have no popular mandate. It was quite obvious that no conceivable election outcome could have a positive impact on these struggles (that is there was no chance of a government being returned that would reverse them). But now with the pendulum having swung to the centre right the election results are being thrown in activists faces, including those who thought that such a strategy was daft in the first place. Those who argue for electoralism can often only see the positives, this is a rather clear illustration there are some large negatives as well.
3. At least the PD's got wiped out. In that context the election clearly wasn't a simple swing to the right as a vote for a low risk more of the same. We are probably not far off one or more crashes, starting with the property one and in that context the result in a bit like the literal cliff hanger at the end of the Italian job where its hoped that somehow by standing very still disaster can be averted.
A few caveats by Chekov
A few of the assumptions in the article and the general media coverage are worth looking at a bit more closely.
First of all, it should be borne in mind that this election was quite different than the previous one in that the result was not known in advance. Recall that the only issue in the last election was whether FF would have an overall majority or not - the PDs [neoliberals] "single party government - no thanks" slogan was unveiled in the last week or so when it looked like FF were going to get an overall majority.
The increase in turnout of a few percentage points was probably down to the pruning of the electoral register and due to the fact that the election result was in doubt until the end (and still is with no clear government yet formed).
Also, the left wing vote did not really decline at all. The candidates to the left of the labour party got a greater share of votes than before, but lost seats (Healy, Higgins) on a few tight calls. SF and the Greens actually increased their share of the vote although they didn't live up to their headier expectations.
The real swing saw votes going from the PDs and independents to FG and to a lesser extent from the Labour party. That doesn't mean that there was any particular swing in opinion to the right either - just that people who were pissed off knew that the only possible alternative government was one led by FG (thanks to Labour's disasterous strategy of propping them up after their hammering in the last election).
So there were two clear choices, a government led by FG and one led by FF. In such a situation, only the ideological are going to vote for somebody else - there's a point in registering a protest vote when the election result is a foregone conclusion, if it's up in the air, anybody who can identify any difference at all between the two main parties is going to normally choose one of them, even just as the lesser of two evils.
In this case, anyway, much of the voting was clearly negative - anti-FF and anti-Kenny depending on the vote. The gombeen capitalism of FF is always going to be less negative than the perceived west-brit snobby capitalism of FG among more people and FF played this card very effectively - portraying themselves as anti-establishment as represented by the Irish Times (we even had an incredibly bizzare attempt to play this line on indymedia by the truly weird IPRG).
So, all in all, I don't think this election tells us much about the population's opinions on anything other than the fact that the "west-brit" faction of the ruling class are even less popular than the gombeen faction. Certainly it was a complete and utter farcical version of democracy, but we knew it was going to be that. Those who invested high hopes in it were just living in a land of wishful thinking that is completely unconnected to reality.
Wed 22 May, 16:01
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