Archive for European Parliament Elections

Exercising the Franchise

Posted in Biographical, Politics with tags , , on May 24, 2019 by telescoper

First thing this morning I cast my vote in Maynooth, the polling station for which is in the Presentation Girls School, a Catholic Primary School. It wasn’t amazingly busy inside but there was a steady flow of people coming through. There were 8 desks dishing out ballot papers, more desks than you usually get at a polling station in the UK. There were three ballot papers, one for the European Parliament, one for the Local Council, and one for the Constitutional Referendum.

Anyway, Polling Card in hand I eventually found the right desk. Having done my homework last night I ranked all 17 candidates for the European Parliament Elections and all 9 for the Local Council Elections, copying my preferences from a piece of paper I had taken with me. The Single Transferable Vote system must making counting quite a lengthy process so it will take some time before the results are known.

At least I got to vote, which many EU citizens in the UK were unable to do. There’s a major scandal brewing about what looks like deliberate disenfranchisement. These things shouldn’t happen in a democracy, but apparently in the United Kingdom they do.

I had a very busy morning after arriving at the Department so I’ve just discovered that Theresa May has resigned. Part of me is delighted as I thought she was callous and mean-spirited as well as being useless. Apparently she cried when she read out her resignation statement. You’d have to have a heart of stone not to burst out laughing.

The feeling of happiness that the current PM is leaving is however tempered by the very high probability that whoever replaces her will be even worse…

So I’m now heading off to Dublin again for the second session of IQF 2019 after which I’ll be going to the Gaiety Theatre for a performance of the Magic Flute, an Opera about Particle Physics.

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Voting Matters in Ireland

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , on May 21, 2019 by telescoper

Arriving back in civilization last night I discovered that my polling card for Friday’s voting has arrived at last along with instructions on the Referendum to be held alongside the Local Council Elections and the European Parliament Elections, all held on 24th May.

I’m looking forward to casting my ballot. It is a new experience for me to vote here in Ireland. Both elections are held under Proportional Representation (Single Transferable Vote) which seems to me a very sensible system. One ranks the candidates in order of preference with votes progressively reallocated as the lowest-ranked candidates are eliminated. You can rank all the candidates or just some. In the system employed here one ranks the candidates in order of preference with votes progressively reallocated in various rounds until one ends up with the top n candidates to fill the n available seats. Surplus votes from the top candidates as well as those of eliminated candidates are reallocated to lower-preference candidates in this process.

The Local Elections involve filling 40 seats on Kildare County Council, with five councillors representing Maynooth. The nine candidates are listed here, in case you’re interested.

For the European Parliament Elections things are a bit more complicated. For the purposes of the EU elections Ireland is divided into three constituencies: Dublin, Ireland South and Midlands North West. I am in the latter, which elects four MEPs. There are 17 candidates for this constituency, listed here.

As a relative newcomer to Ireland I first sorted the candidates into three groups: (i) those that I would be happy to see elected, (ii) those that I don’t really like but could tolerate, and (iii) those that I wouldn’t like to see representing me under any circumstances. There are plenty in the latter category. There seems to be a law in Ireland that there has to be at least one deranged simpleton on every ballot paper, and there are several in this election. I will choose my lower-preference votes to ensure that none of these dickheads, especially racist gobshite Peter Casey, benefit from my vote in any way.

Although the STV system seems very sensible to me, it does lead to a rather lengthy counting process – especially if everyone does what I plan to do, i.e. rank all the candidates instead of just their favourites.

Local Election News

Posted in Maynooth, Politics with tags , , , on May 3, 2019 by telescoper

As results come in from the local elections held in the Disunited Kingdom yesterday, I see that the results have been so bad for the Conservative Party that one Tory MP has been reduced to tears. You’d have to have a heart of stone not to burst out laughing. It’s also rather hilarious to see various factions (including the BBC news) spin the big gains of the Liberal Democrats as a message to `get on with Brexit’, but at the same time it’s also sad to see a country so gripped by madness that it is reduced to such a state.

UPDATE: With 218 out of 248 English Councils having been counted, the Conservative Party has lost an impressive 1072 councillors, but not to Labour who have lost 110. The big winners are the Liberal Democrats (+582), the Greens (+152) and Independents (+505). UKIP are also down by 99 to just 29 councillors. Both Labour and Tories are still claiming that this sends a message to get on with Brexit. Bizarre. I wonder what they think a message to stop Brexit would look like?

Anyway there were no local elections in Wales yesterday so I didn’t vote. I am still eligible to do so, of course, as I pay Council Tax on my house in Cardiff. I would have had a tricky problem deciding what to do if I had. As a lifelong Labour voter (and member until recently) I can no longer support them because of their `policy’ on Brexit, so probably would have voted for Plaid Cymru. That’s who I would vote for in the European Parliament elections.

I am eligible to vote in both the United Kingdom (Wales) and Ireland for the forthcoming European Parliament elections (assuming they go ahead), but one is supposed to vote in one or the other rather than both so I’ve decided to vote here as this is the country in which I am `normally resident’. The European Parliament elections take place here in Ireland on Friday 24th May (three weeks from today) at the same time as the local council elections here.

Kildare County Council will have 40 councillors of which five are elected in Maynooth. For the purpose of the European Parliament elections, Ireland is divided into three multi-member constituencies: Dublin, Ireland South and Midlands North-West. Maynooth is in the last of these, which stretches from Kildare across to Galway and up to Donegal. It will elect four MEPs. The same voting method is used in both elections: the single transferable vote.

(The UK has multi-member constituencies for the European Parliament elections too, but uses the D’Hondt system in which one votes for a party list rather than an individual.)

I’m a relative newcomer to Irish politics, and am yet to decide who to vote for in these elections. I certainly won’t vote for either of the two leading neoliberal/conservative parties, Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil. Sinn Féin will probably be top of my list of preferences in both ballots. On the other extreme, tax-dodger, racist gobshite and failed Presidential candidate Peter Casey is sure to be bottom of my list for the MEP elections: he’s unfit for any kind of public office, in my opinion.

Apart from the different voting system(s) and dates, there is another noticeable difference between the UK and Ireland at election time:

Posters like this pop up everywhere on lampposts during election (and referendum) campaigns in Ireland, as opposed to the larger billboard-type posters that seem to be favoured in Britain. At least these show you what your candidates look like, which is not the case if you vote for a party list. Such posters are specifically permitted by law but most be taken down within a certain time after the election, otherwise the party responsible is fined.