Friday, October 26, 2018

Election Day!

It's an election day here today. There is no set date for elections here--they happen when necessary and for various reasons. This is the first presidential election that has happened since we've been here, so the first time Bill has cast a vote in one of those. When we first arrived, there was an election for MEPs (EU parliament). The following year there was an election to form a government. Since no party among the many got a clear majority, there were lengthy negotiations to form a government. I think they lasted 6 or 8 weeks. There are many parties to choose from here--Fine Gael, Fianna Fail, Sinn Fein, Independents, Greens, Labour, Anti-Austerity Alliance/People Before Profit, and a newish party called Renua that doesn't seem to be going anywhere. I might have forgotten some. There is no far right nationalist party here equivalent to Republicans in the US, UKIP in the UK or the ones in various other places. A few people have tried--I've read that the ringleader was a guy from the US--but they always flop and quickly fade away. So after the last election and the negotiations, Fine Gael formed a coalition government with Independents and with a confidence and supply agreement with Fianna Fail. That agreement was to last for three budgets (as I understand it, Fianna Fail agreed not to contest them, which would bring down the government).

There have been referendum questions a couple of times since we've been here. A few years ago, Ireland became the first country in the world to enshrine marriage equality into law by popular vote--and it was overwhelming support. There was such a feeling of jubilation throughout the country. Then a few months ago, they voted overwhelmingly to remove abortion restrictions from the constitution. Today people are voting for president and on whether to remove the blasphemy law from the constitution. The blasphemy thing is interesting. They wanted to remove the law years ago, but legal experts said it couldn't be done without a vote. This was during the times of recession and austerity and they didn't want to spend the money on a referendum, so they changed the law, which could be done without a vote. The people that rewrote it apparently made it unenforceable.

So this is where Bill went in to vote. I was thinking about his grandmother again today, as I do most days. She is why we get to be here and I am so grateful. When she left this country, probably in the 1890s, it wasn't even a country. It was under British colonial rule. She certainly would not have been able to vote, but now, in this young country, still not yet a century old, her grandson does get to vote. It's a ranked choice system, and 6 candidates (only one was affiliated with any party), so Bill had to take some time to decide how to rank them after his #1 choice.

I admit I was a bit miffed when we left just before noon. I'd been looking forward to the cool, crisp, windy day that was promised by the weather people. There was even supposed to be wind chill!!! I was thrilled, though I did pause while pulling the sweater over my head this morning to wonder whether it might be a bit too much. It was. When we went out, the sun was shining and while there was a bit of a breeze, no wind chill was forthcoming. While Bill voted, I waited outside, looking hopefully at the dark clouds just beyond the patch of blue.

There was a bit of misty rain, but the sun stayed out and I kept roasting as we walked the long way home, through town and then beyond to the grocery store.

For a few hours, Killybegs had a couple of streetlights.
But by the time were coming home with our groceries, the road was clear and Killybegs was once again street light free.

 I guess it will be tomorrow before we have election results. The current president, Michael D Higgins, is expected to win by a large margin. People love him and even knit Michael T Higgins tea cosies! Last poll I saw had him up by over 50 percentage points over his nearest rival. It would be a shocking upset if he did not come out on top.

Hope it's a good day in your neck of the woods!

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