This month we face a number of electoral choices: local elections, elections for the EU Parliament, and a proposed amendment to the Constitution.
The local elections have produced a staggering number of small parties and independents, hoping to be elected to what is in fact powerless local government. Real power lies with the city and county managers.
Many independents are running on a platform of dealing with homelessness, attempting to establish a public profile for future Dáil elections. Few of these independents will have any real political influence if elected. In many ways this is a reflection of how deeply neo-liberal ideology has penetrated the left. Most of these independents take an à la carte approach and a highly individualist attitude—very much in line with neo-liberalism and how it encourages individualism.
Collective action is frowned on, or supported only in so far as it suits their individualist agenda. The power structures within local government would be quite happy to have chambers full of “independents,” providing them with a diffuse and easily controlled opposition. It also allows these same power structures to make deals with Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Labour Party to push through the privatising of council services, selling off public land, and pushing the cost-rental model of public housing.
We also have courageous and principled independents who see politics beyond this narrow approach. Such independent councillors and candidates are involved in campaigns in support of Palestine, Communities Against Low Pay, the Campaign for Public Housing, and several others. They are worthy of our support.
Two of the most effective left voices in the Dáil have raised many important issues, including Garda corruption, NAMA, and Shannon Warport, and were heavily involved in the water struggle. They have done more than many of the other left TDs to inflict damage on the political establishment.
Workers should vote left. Vote for left independents who have a wider democratic viewpoint and who have a record of mobilising working people.
EU Parliament elections
The elections to the so-called European Parliament are just a circus. This is a “parliament” with very limited powers, and if it was to get more powers they would be used for further strengthening the integrationist forces and taking more powers away from national bodies, such as Dáil Éireann.
This is a “parliament” whose president has twice supported attempted coups in Venezuela and the overthrow of that country’s democratic government.
This sham parliament is a veneer, a pretence that there is democracy within the EU superstructure and to peddle the illusion that change can be brought about through using these imperial structures. The EU “Parliament” is a graveyard for failed politicians, a place where failed establishment figures find a rest home and fat pensions.
They can prance round the world representing the EU on delegations to see how fieldmice are being bred beyond the Arctic Circle, or go to far-flung countries to lecture the natives on the benefits of white European “democratic values.” EU trade agreements cause huge economic damage to poor countries, robbing the people of their resources, while the EU’s military arm, NATO, and its own emerging military strategy bomb countries to oblivion.
While it took a long and tough campaign over many years and two referendums to secure the civil right to divorce in this state, the compromise terms on which a divorce could be obtained were placed in the Constitution. It’s long past the time for these conditions to be changed. It would be better if such terms were not in the Constitution. People should be allowed to make their own decisions with regard to divorce, and this and other civil matters should not be in the Constitution.
But go out and vote in the referendum for the changes proposed.