Archive for October 29, 2018

Another Pembrokeshire Dangler

Posted in Cardiff with tags , , on October 29, 2018 by telescoper

Taking the opportunity of  the Irish Bank Holiday Monday to spend a long weekend in a rather chilly Cardiff,  I find that Wales is once again under the influence of a Pembrokeshire Dangler:

The Northerly airflow that is responsible for this phenomenon (which I first encountered last year)  is causing a bit of a cold snap here in Cardiff, and has even brought snow to  parts of Wales,  but hopefully the Pembrokeshire Dangler will not interfere with my flight back to Ireland.

Uachtarán na hÉireann

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on October 29, 2018 by telescoper

To nobody’s great surprise, Saturday’s count saw Michael D Higgins reelected as President of Ireland by a considerable margin. His acceptance speech on Saturday night was very eloquent and statesmanlike: you can listen to it here.

The Presidency of Ireland is a ceremonial rather than an executive office, and it has little actual power associated with it. It is nevertheless important in that the President is the guardian of the Constitution as well as representing the Irish Nation as a kind of ambassador and as patron of many good causes.

The way the election worked is that voters rank all six candidates. In the first round of counting, first preference votes are totted up and if one candidate has more than 50% he/she is elected. If not an Instant Runoff method is used, with votes of lower-ranked being reallocated until there’s a winner (ie until one candidate gains a majority).

On Saturday, Michael D Higgins gained 56% on the first round so no further counting was necessary. The turnout was very low at 44%. I think this was mainly down to the enormous lead for the incumbent in opinion polls in advance of the voting, but the decision to hold the election on the Friday of a Bank Holiday weekend may have contributed.

The candidate in second place, Peter Casey, had 23% of the first-preference votes. This is worryingly high for a man so clearly unsuited to the role of President. Casey cynically played the populist game, particularly with his incendiary remarks about Travellers. All five other candidates condemned his obvious racism, and the Taioseach urged people not to vote for him. That identified Casey as the anti-establishment ‘protest’ vote and his vote share surged.

Now 23% of a 44% turnout is less than 10% of the electorate, but there’s no room for complacency with gobshites like Peter Casey. In the UK the ghastly Nigel Farage was treated as a joke for decades by many establishment figures, but he nevertheless managed to attract sufficient support to cause irrevocable damage to the UK.

Anyway, that concern aside, sincere congratulations to Michael D Higgins on his reelection. He is a worthy winner and I for one am proud to have him as my President.