Monday, January 24, 2011

Coming to terms with Irish politics

I'm no political analyst. I try to understand politics based on politicians actions and reach a conclusion. One thing I learned in school about politics is that in democracy politicians are supposed to run the country for the people. The people confer power to the politicians they regard as most fit to govern their country.

And this is where the problem in rationalising politics starts for me. Ireland used to have a Prime Minister that had to or decided to resign amid corruption allegations. His party Fianna Fail then put another member in his place. Not the people.

The people were put on a spectator’s position where they could only hope the best for their country. In the meantime they had to vote twice for a Referendum as they apparently gave the wrong answer the first time. Again, the Lisbon Treaty was another puzzle for me as Irish people were cornered to accept what they didn't really want. In a democracy the people do no wrong.  They call the shots. Specially in a sovereign country, but perhaps this is where the power of the European Union comes in and enforces what they believe is right in the name of a more uniform bloc.

Anyway while the people expected the best, the government decided the best thing to do was to use public money to rescue a bank that had a 75% likeability of breaking. I'm not great in Maths, but it doesn't look good even to me. Thus I carried on studying and trying to learn why the government's finance experts didn't realise that nationalising a bank in that condition wasn't a brilliant idea.

It would seem that financial experts were too busy funding the building of houses for people to buy because nearly everyone was rich enough not only to purchase a house but offices and hotels too, instead of paying good attention to the economy. 

The economy has flopped. The people have wanted their Prime Minister out of the office for a long time and also a general election as soon as possible. In the chess play of politics the general election can be brought forward if the ruling party loses the support of the coalition party. This is something quite interesting to me. Where I come from the elections are held every four years whether a president likes it or not. He's the head of the state as we have no Prime Ministers in Brazil.

In the rare event of an impeachment, like Fernando Collor saw happen to him in 92, the president is then not replaced by an elected one, but for one belonging to the same party, just like it happened in Ireland when Cowen replaced Ahern. Democracy isn't perfect anywhere, I guess. Perhaps because more often that not it's tied with capitalism and corruption and if I were to write about Brazilian corruption this post would be gigantic, believe me.

Back to the general elections, it turns out that Fianna Fail lost the support of their coalition party, the Green Party over the weekend, after the Minister for Foreign Affairs, also a Fianna Fail member, decided to quit because they didn't want to lose any more face. 

Meanwhile the Labour Party, has turned a game of golf into a magnificent opportunity to call for a motion of no confidence against the government.

There was this round of golf between the Prime Minister and a powerful man in 2008. This is how I saw it in the beginning, so I couldn't understand why people and the press were giving such importance to it. I thought ¨This is Ireland, famous for its golf courses, surely people will meet and play golf¨. But it is more complicated and serious than that as the other powerful man in question is Sean Fitzpatrick, the head of the very bank that the government rescued, that is the Anglo Irish Bank.

I haven't mentioned the European bailout yet. It's partially due to the fact that the Prime Minister had said for some time that Ireland wouldn't need one. I guess my brain went with that. But it did happen as the whole world knows. The people weren't asked anything regarding it beforehand. 

Not forgetting Michael Martin, who decided to quit his post as Minister for Foreign Affairs over the weekend and who now wants to be the next leader of Fianna Fail, we see both the Fine Gael and the Labour Party putting pressure on the Prime Minister to resign, which again is pretty much what the people have wanted in a long time, so it looks like Ireland is being put back on the democracy track and that Eamon Gilmore will be running the country soon. Not that it's what the papers are saying, but I guess I'm allowed to cast my vote at least on my blog.

Now if you ask me why these parties believe Fianna Fail's budget plan must be passed before the general elections, my answer is ¨I don't know yet".