BY the time you read this article, you’ll only have a few more hours to enjoy (or endure!) the countdown to General Election 2020.
When Leo travelled to the park to dissolve the 32nd Dáil last month, it sent the country into election frenzy.
Simply put: it has been unrelenting wall-to-wall media coverage since, giving us debate after debate, fiery exchanges, back-stabbing, digging up of skeletons, broken promise reminders, fresh promises that candidates swear they’ll stick by, election posters overkill, baby-kissing, and of course, dropping into the elderly folk in forgotten rural Ireland for the Mrs Doyle cup of tea.
But there comes a time in every race where it actually has to start, and there are winners and losers.
After an intense weekend of counting with the pencil and paper (if only those electronic voting machines had worked out!), we’ll have a fair idea of who will lead the next Government.
Once the arithmetic is sorted out, a bit of good old bartering between the main protagonists will commence and following the overtures, those who said previously: “we’ll never go in with them”, might just have a change of heart and say “well, you know, that was then, this is now, maybe we could cut a deal”.
After the last election in 2016, it took an inordinate amount of time to form a Government but it did produce a memorable phrase that was to endure for four years – The confidence and supply agreement.
Once again the field for this race is particularly congested despite the litany of retirements with a number of ‘big hitters’ calling it a day.
And speaking of retirements, that subject has become one of the big issues in the lead up to this election with representatives of all parties throwing in their tuppence worth. Beware the ‘Grey’ vote, though!
Of course, exercising your right to vote is the most important issue as you have the opportunity to play your part in the formation of the 33rd Dáil by going down to your local polling station this weekend. Weigh up the credentials of each candidate and each party. Even if you haven’t got a crystal ball on your person, try and guess which of them is the most likely to stick to their promises if they win that precious seat.
Statistics have shown that Ireland has had the lowest average turnout for general elections in Europe for the last 30 years.
But remember, if you turn down the opportunity to vote, apparently you pass up the right to complain when the new Government has its feet under the table in Leinster House and is busy implementing its policies.
Also, you’ll have to bear the ignominy of the so-called expert election pundits putting you in the ‘voter apathy’ category. Why not shock them by voting in huge, unprecedented numbers?
Many constituency battles have been fought over the years with just a handful of votes making the difference – they could be yours.
So by the weekend you will probably become an expert on manifestos, proportional representation, tallymen, transfers, floating votes, gender quotas, coalitions, rainbow governments, confidence and supply agreements and the like.
There’s also a chance that you could be going to bed dreaming (or having nightmares!) of leaders’ debates and the mug shots of candidates staring out at you from every lamppost in the country.
However, the time for all the talking (okay, squabbling is probably a more accurate word) has stopped. This Saturday, just remember: the power is in your hands!