From top: Voting in the General Election of 2016 at St Joseph’s NS in Cabra, Dublin; Bryan Wall
One of the issues worth expanding on with tomorrow’s elections is the idea of tactical voting. The simple fact is that Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are cut from the same cloth. Civil War politics aside, at this stage their policies are one and the same.
The confidence and supply agreement all but confirms that they are essentially different wings of the same party: The business party. For both of them free markets take precedence over the average person.
Public spending on housing, health, and public transportation is anathema to both. And let’s not dare mention any kind of regulation when it comes to finance or housing.
Despite this, both parties will do quite well in the elections. Which of the two comes out on top will make no real difference. That leaves us with the rest of the parties and independents.
This ranges from Solidarity – People Before Profit to Renua, to everything and everyone in between. So the question is: If you want to ensure the most possible damage to Fianna Fáil/Fine Gael pact, and stop an incipient far right, how should you vote?
My own approach is to vote tactically.
My constituency in West Cork is in the heartland of establishment politics. But there is also a rise of far-right conspiratorial types who hate anyone non-Irish as much as they love talking about the dangers of chemtrails.
The combination of these two factors means I have a relatively easy decision to make. Vote against the establishment and at the same time ensure that the far right get nothing.
One aspect of tactical voting is figuring out who the establishment is. In my opinion that includes the Green Party and Labour. Both did untold damage to the country and the most vulnerable while in power. They might suggest that they are of the left but they simply aren’t. They have no political compass other than the quest for power once again.
Who does that leave?
To mention my own constituency again, that means voting for parties I have disagreements with, such as Solidarity – People Before Profit. This, along with voting for genuine outsiders who are of the people, — and don’t yearn for an all-white Ireland — ensures that the transfers will make a difference.
The outsiders running as independents in my own constituency understand the problems that we face and do legitimately want to do something about it. We don’t have a duty to vote but we do have a duty to fight hatred and inequality. And right now this means voting for people who believe in the same things.
Figuring out where Sinn Féin fit into this is, personally, tough. It makes the right sounds but so did Labour and the Greens. And like them, Sinn Féin has shown a willingness to cooperate with the establishment it so often criticises. The same can be said for the Social Democrats.
But it boils down to who do you hate more? Would you prefer a mix of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael alongside members of the far right on your local councils and in Europe, or would Sinn Féin be a better alternative? For me the answer is self-evident.
In Dublin we have the appearance of Frances Fitzgerald on the ballot. Anyone remotely familiar with Maurice McCabe will know about her role in the scandal. The same calculus as above applies.
Do you want to reward dishonesty and at the same time allow a far-right victory? If not, then vote for candidates who understand racism, inequality, and injustice and will fight against them.
They might not change anything in the long-term, but it will terrify the establishment and its defenders. And it will undermine the political aspirations of the far right.
When it comes down to it, we’re in a situation where business as usual is creating more and more havoc. I don’t mean that people should go and vote for whoever claims to be against this arrangement. Many claim to want change and that they want to end corruption. In reality they’re far-right ideologues salivating at the chance of attaining power.
No matter what you think about voting and its effectiveness – and my own cynicism of it is well documented – there is a real chance to at the very least temporarily block the far right’s rise.
Along the way it might scare the establishment to witness a left-wing surge in the elections. Voting tactically will achieve this.