General Election 2020 has sent shockwaves through the Irish political establishment. Nobody saw it coming. Sinn Fein were not running enough candidates. Even on a great day the consensus was that they would come in third in seat count. The race was between Fianna Fail and Fine Gael and one or other of them would lead a government.
On a very bad day they would be forced to go into coalition together. They haven’t even the numbers for that. The polls are showing that another election will leave them in an even worse position. Fianna Fail and Fine Gael may well have no choice but to come together with Greens or Independents or both. They have no good choices. Established Irish politics only has itself to blame. Both main parties have a hand in the current mess.
The term radical change is very loaded. It draws images of unruly mobs and communism. These images couldn’t be further from the truth. The change most people want is far more benign. Most people just want the opportunity to live comfortable lives. And they are more than willing to work for it.
Home Ownership is key to security. People are more than willing to slave away in the knowledge that the mortgage will eventually be paid off. They will have no mortgage when they retire. They will have somewhere to live. A family home. This is now not possible for practically a whole generation. At least those without parents in a position to help. Is it radical to want what your parents had? Is it radical to bristle when the government tells you the economy is strong? Is life in modern Ireland to always consist of uncertainty, long commutes and platitudes?
It isn’t only those effected by the housing crisis that are outraged. It offends everybody to see homelessness at such levels. It upsets us all to hear about people stuck on hospital trollies at their hour of need. We fear that it will someday be us or our loved ones on one of those trollies.
If all that wasn’t enough, the retirement we all work towards is being taken away. The graduated increase to the retirement age was the worst possible way to do it. The age of retirement was seen to be a moving feast. The closer we get to it, the further away it will move. Will we ever get to retire? Disgruntlement has been spread to all corners of the electorate. An impressive feat.
The system is broken. Only time will tell if Sinn Fein have the answers. What is more certain is that they will likely get the chance to try in the not too distant future. This election will lead to change. Change is not always good but those stuck in precarious rental and often precarious employment understandably feel like things can’t get much worse. I hope they are right. For the sake of my children I hope the system is repaired. Only one thing is sure, Irelands political landscape is forever changed.
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