Archive for Presidential Election

A New President

Posted in Biographical, Politics with tags , , , , on November 7, 2020 by telescoper

Well it took a while to get there, but less than an hour ago all the major media networks in the USA “called” the result of the 2020 Presidential Election. It looks as if they were all waiting for Joe Biden’s lead in Pennsylvania to exceed the 0.5% threshold needed to rule out a mandatory recount. Once that happened, they all (CNN, CBS, Associated Press, et al – even Fox News) projected that Joe Biden had won. It had been looking that way for some time, but the press agencies wanted to be sure of their ground. Moments after the Pennsylvania result, AP and others also called Nevada in favour of Biden. The remaining tight race, in Georgia, can still go either way, but Biden now has enough electoral votes to be President Elect.

I’ve never felt happier to have lost a bet.

Congratulations to Joe Biden, and to everyone who helped his campaign. A special vote of thanks is due to Jo Jorgensen, the “Libertarian” candidate who polled considerably more votes in the key Swing States than Biden’s margin of victory…

The result is, among many other things, very good news for Ireland. Joe Biden is an Irish-American and we can be confident that he will not allow the Belfast Agreement to be sabotaged by Johnson & Gove. It’s not so good news for Boris Johnson but at least we’ll have the pleasure of seeing him twist in the wind until he resigns in a few months’ time.

Nobody expects Donald Trump to go quietly, however, and there’s no sign that he is going to concede. I think he’d be quite happy to watch his country burn rather than admit being a loser. Some patriot. I think the USA is now entering a very dangerous period in its history. It’s really a question of whether Trump’s entourage can persuade him to accept reality. I’m not sure they will be able to do that. Instead there’s a real possibility that Trump will try to encourage his followers to violent protest. At the very least we can expect him to issue a string of executive orders intend the sabotage the new President. I hope I’m wrong, but I’m more anxious about the next few weeks than I was about the election.

PS Can this evening’s TV schedule on RTÉ 2 really be a coincidence?

PPS. I watched “The Death of Stalin” last night and thought it was very good!

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.