Our first acquisition of the January transfer window, Padraig McCarrick, kicks off our General Election coverage
It’s hard not to be apathetic towards politicians, voting and just democracy in general at a time like this. It becomes especially so when over the last two weeks, every hour churns out a new development in the three-ring circus that is Irish politics. Instead of the important economic and social issues at hand, we have all been sucked into the Fianna Fail merry-go-round making it all about them. While opponents seek to land another blow on a party that seems to be in complete disarray, the actual issues at hand seem to be becoming of lesser importance. By the time the canvassing is in full swing, you can bet that candidates will be more concerned with ‘getting Fianna Fail out’ rather than bringing anything positive to voters.
If that is the case, it really does not stand well for democracy in Ireland. While I fully understand the need for a change of government, I want this change to happen for the right reasons and not for the sole purpose of swiping another blow at a party that has imploded on itself. For students, it is even more difficult to find a desire to vote than most other groups in society. Lack of interest, geography and (my personal favourite) family tradition all plays a part in how the youth vote. This election however, could potentially break these ties for good.
For many students, this will be their first general election. It is therefore important to make sure you are registered to vote. If you had voted in the local elections of 2009, you are still registered. If not, the deadline for registration is February 12. If you are lucky enough to have a canvassing neighbour, I’m sure they will be willingly to take care of it for you, otherwise you can go about it here [hyperlink]. If a neighbour does register you, don’t feel obliged to give their candidate a vote although making them think otherwise will do you no harm.
So why vote? One could start off with the auld reason “it’s what our forefathers died for etc”. This is true, but is hardly a reason that will have streams of voters queuing down the street. For students, it’s the chance to bring about a change in mindset in Irish politics. For the first time, it allows people to reassess their values and make a clean break from whatever family ties held them in the past. While we will be suffering the effects of the recent economic crisis for some years to come, it will be the next five years, and who ever will be in power that will chart our path to recovery. For the youth, this is by far the more important fact.
While the fight against cuts in education remains a key concern for students of all ages, investment in economic development is key to the success of our graduates. Lack of employment opportunities and the subsequent emigration will doom Ireland to the same cycle in which in now resides. For a successful political shift to occur, this election needs to count. While older voters talk of change, there is the chance that they will still revert to old habits and voting patterns. It is the youth’s engagement with the system that will change it for the better.
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