Saturday, July 23, 2011

Irish Politics: Visit to the Leinster House

Politics in Ireland vary from politics in the states. It is more likely for Irish politicians to single handedly reach out to specific sectors of the country and physically gaining supporters by knocking door to door. This seems unusual to the average voter in the states. It is more likely for Americans to meet local politicians rather then the big names. The political system in general is very interesting and appealing to me, however there are various aspects that I have yet to uncover.
While visiting the Leinster House a picture was painted, the Civil war lead to the creation of Fianna Fail and Fine Gael. These two political parties are evidence of what remains of the conflict today. These parties have had both tremendous success and downfalls throughout the years following the Civil War. Present day, after the 2011 general election, Fine Gael is Ireland’s largest party. The party represents and has identified itself with the values of social democracy advocating a liberal agenda. Thus it is seen as a centre-right party.  Its supporters are large farmers and businesses. Today Fine Gael is a member of the Christian Democratic European People’s Party. It is viewed as a more conservative party, adopting a less nationalist position on Northern Ireland.
Eamon de Valera founded Fianna Fail in 1926. This party initially began as a radical anti-treaty party with such supporters as small farmers and workers. Today the party is associated with a more republican outlook, but considers itself neither Left Wing nor Right Wing. Fianna Fail is the political party who was in control during the years of the Celtic Tiger, and responsible for the spending habits, which are were seen reminiscent of that of a more left wing party. Due to the economic crash, the Fianna Fail have fallen out of favor and instead replaced by the Fine Gael.
It is not just these two political parties that are responsible for the past history of Ireland’s politics, a third party exists, the Labour Party. This party is considered to be the centre-left and social democratic side of the Republic’s politics. It is the second largest party and has partaken in coalition governments with both Fianna Fail and Fine Gael in past years.
These three parties, direct descendents of the division of the Civil War’s opposing sides, continue to govern Ireland today. It is important to note the history of Ireland and its growth via these politic parties. Because these events are still new, happening within the last 100 years, lingering ties to each side are apparent when looking at both the Fianna Fail and Fine Gael parties.
Politics in Ireland, as I have learned are extremely competitive. It baffles me that only about 15% of the seats held are by women, considering there is an even split in the population ratio of male verses female. We have covered the issue in class and have addressed it in writing, however the topic is still open-ended for me. Today the president, Mary McAleese is the face of governmental politics for the country while the Taoiseach is currently and historically always has been male. It was made clear to us throughout our studies that the president, unlike the American President has much less power. It is largely a ceremonial position. This is all very interesting and new to me, I hope for the future of Irish politics however, that more females move into power to more evenly represent the public

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