Results of Local & EU Elections of June 7th

The 7th of June Local and EU elections showed the continuing strength and stability of bourgeois ideology in Irish society. Despite facing several related crises such as housing & homelessness, a deteriorating health service, increasing levels of poverty, right-wing attacks on migrants, as well as opposition to the government’s policy of ever closer integration with NATO, the centre-right governing coalition remains the strongest political force in the country following both the Local Government and EU elections.

Until recently, the opinion polls before election campaigning got underway in earnest had consistently shown that the housing crisis & homelessness, the crisis in the health service, and increasing levels of poverty were the main concerns of most people in Ireland. The government parties were vulnerable on these issues and Sinn Féin, seen as more progressive or perhaps not responsible for these crises, saw its support grow. Understanding that it could not defend its record on housing, health, the cost of living etc, the government cynically set out to change the agenda through a deceitful campaign of fearmongering and ultimately scapegoating vulnerable groups.

Government strategy in the weeks and months before the elections was to create a climate of fear as it focused on the rise of the far right. Over the past few years, as far right threats and violence against refugees, minorities, and non-government political activists increased, the state took very little action. Instead, they allowed these forces a free hand to sow fear and hate within communities across the country, then used the emerging political conditions on the ground to advance a strategic position to marginalise and attack the left. As the elections neared, government politicians succeeded in shifting the focus towards migration and the threat of far right violence, and away from housing and health.

Working in lockstep with the government, both the state-run and privately-owned media dutifully began to focus on migration and the far right, ignoring issues such as the housing crisis & homelessness. The government strategy was to create confusion and fear to maintain its dominance at Local and EU level. The government and state worked to construct the narrative that they represented the rational centre and for the need to isolate the extremes of left and right. Better the devil you know!

The far right also supported the government parties by attacking Sinn Féin and leftwing, progressive parties and individuals. Social media campaigns against those perceived as being “on the Left” were partially successful in diverting attention away from the true cause of the multiple, inter-related crises, that being capitalism.

Clare Daly and Mick Wallace, two of the most vocal and incorruptible anti-imperialist MEPs both lost their seats in the EU Parliament. They campaigned for peace, for Irish neutrality, and for solidarity with the victims of capitalism and imperialism worldwide. They faced increasing hostility from the Irish government and media, the EU, NATO, and the arms industry throughout their time as MEPs. This culminated in a vicious campaign, harking back to the darkest days of McCarthyism, opposing their re-election which, in the case of Clare Daly, was assisted by a left-sectarian intervention that split the progressive vote.

On final tallies, 21% of first preference votes were for non-party and independent candidates. Independents ranged from the left to the far right. This is representative of the fact that large numbers of people are looking for change and an alternative to the present political establishment. Despite the hegemony of bourgeois ideology, there is still opposition to the reality of life under capitalism.

The task confronting us is to build a movement to engage more deeply with our urban and rural working class and all those oppressed by capitalism, and to give political direction to this opposition. Such a movement cannot be built on foundations of opportunism or left sectarianism and of putting the interests of one’s faction before the interests of the working class.

The Communist Party of Ireland is prepared for the task of building a genuine progressive left opposition based on a transformative policy to realise the change that our class wants and deserves.

Ní neart go cur le chéile.