Election Special – Change doesn’t always come at the ballot box but this time it might

Voting for left wing parties in this election is paramount. There are no two ways about it and there are multiple reasons as to why this is the case. It likely won’t end the domination of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael in the Dáil. But it will do damage to both parties and ensure that, at the very least, a sizeable left-wing opposition exists. This is an end in itself. 

Ireland is not a conservative country yet it has been ruled by two conservative political parties for the entirely of the state’s history. Ensuring that left-wing parties receive a large share of the votes will truly signal the end of conservative Ireland. And that there is no going back from it. 

Then there are the economic and social reasons as to why voting left is imperative. To be blunt, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are two sides of the same neoliberal coin. Both parties have seen to it that the richest in society gain whilst the poorest suffer. As much as Leo Varadkar wants to play the blame game, and even though Fianna Fáil started the process of immiseration with the introduction of the bank guarantee and austerity, it was Varadkar’s party that continued these policies. Promises to the electorate mean nothing when the neoliberal ideology of profit pulls the strings.

The results of this are all around us. We have a housing and homelessness crisis, our health system is on the verge of complete collapse, our taxes seem to be spent on everything but public services, and we have a government defending multinational corporations against EU regulations and rulings. It is not a victory to sink Fine Gael to the benefit of Fianna Fáil. A true victory will only come with a left-wing surge. 

Defining which parties belong on the left is sometimes fraught with bitter debate. Labour’s policies when in government have left a lasting and sour impression with the electorate. The same applies to the Green Party. Both betrayed their base. Yet, now a left-wing coalition depends on their being accepted back into the fold. This is not a small ask. And despite calls for “left unity”, it cannot come at the expense of atonement which has, from both parties, been lacking. 

People can and should vote how they want to vote. It is not for others to tell them how to fill out their ballots. But a more just society will not come from punishing Fine Gael to Fianna Fáil’s benefit. It will only come when there is a substantial left-wing movement that can effectively challenge centres of power and take back what has been denied us. Maybe that means voting for parties that some consider ideological traitors; perhaps not. 

But, either way, the future of our society depends on a political transformation to the left. This realignment will be a powerful blow to far-right candidates and parties who have banked on doing well in this election. And it will shock the political mainstream which firmly resides on the centre-right. From the polls we have seen so far, it appears that this shift is happening. Revolution comes in many forms. For now, it appears to be coming at the ballot box. We will see.

Featured image via Flickr – William Murphy