I wrote about Ireland’s 2011 Presidential election at the time. The roster of candidates was uninspiring and the least bad candidate won.
Michael D Higgins was, and is, too fond of the authoritarian left for my comfort but he’s been sufficiently ineffectual over the decades not to be scary. And he’s been in politics long enough to have a decent understanding of the potentially important constitutional role of the Presidency.
We should all hope that an Irish President has nothing more to do than kiss babies, open supermarkets, and occasionally to represent the people of Ireland on the international stage in a graceful and dignified manner. The other part of the role is a critical constitutional role where the President is a key constitutional backstop…and which we should all hope isn’t needed often or much at all.
Michael D has been fine. Apart from opening his mouth a few times and saying idiotic things about Fidel Castro and the like, he’s been suitably dignified and knows the limits of the role. He’s a bit old, but compared to the other candidates on offer he’s FAAAR and away the best option.
The vacuity of the debate around the Presidency is perhaps nicely illustrated by this video from one of the better remaining candidates. What, in heck’s sake, is this man saying? Seriously, click the link and listen for the requisite minute.
Meantime, the fact that Irish politics has no-one better to offer than a clapped out old socialist with no new thoughts or directions or vision or even personal history is a sad indictment of the state of Irish politics. Not a decent dignified option among them. FF has nothing better to offer than discredited and corrupt chancers. FG might be able to put forward – say – John Bruton, but he’s potentially too divisive. Labour? No-one at all. Other than the aforementioned Michael D.
Are there any possibilities from elsewhere? Not really. People floated the idea of some journalists running. People who – apart from their prominence and name recognition – have nothing else to recommend them. Decent people perhaps, but almost all coming from RTE’s gilded world so the idea of the representing the people of Ireland is slightly ludicrous.
And there we are. Ireland hasn’t got a good candidate for President so the best option is again the least bad option. Vote for Michael D. At least he understands the job and won’t make a balls of it.