Early results in the Irish election….

According to early reports on the news this morning, voter turn-out across Ireland was high yesterday—82% (!) in Castlebar, County Mayo.

In Dublin, I think the turn-out was running about 74%.

Officials were expecting Full turn-out would have been 3 million voters countrywide—out of a population of 4.2 million, of which 10% are non-citizens and so can’t vote. (More info here.) British citizens resident in Ireland are the exception, they can vote in a general election here.

After a 50 million Euro fiasco with electronic voting machines in 2002, all ballots were paper. (Yay!) My ballot had 13 names, each with a little color picture of the candidate, along with party affiliation. I marked my preference with a pencil that was provided. I could’ve chosen up to 10, but I ranked only the 6 I knew were Left enough for my taste. Then I folded the ballot over twice and pushed it into a slot in a cardboard box.

Low tech and quite satisfying.

Polls were open from 7:30 a.m. until 10:30 p.m. When I went at around 11 a.m. there was no line, so I was in and out in like under 5 minutes.

Counting won’t begin until 9 a.m. this morning, but we should have a good idea of the leading parties by this afternoon. Exit polls are predicting a victory again for Bertie Ahern’s Fianna Fail party, which gives me mixed feelings. Fianna Fail is corrupt, incompetent, and maddeningly arrogant and has been the leading party in power for the past 16 10 years.

The problem is, there are only two leading parties and I dislike Fine Gael, Fianna Fail’s main opposition, more. Both parties have similar centrist ideologies. Fine Gael, however, is a bit further to the Right, more Catholic, and led by Enda Kenny from County Mayo. Mayo, as some of you may recall, is where Shell Oil is trying to build its controversial, dangerous, anti-environmental natural gas pipeline and refinery. Enda Kenny refused all along to support the farmers and other locals who opposed Shell, which earned him my eternal opposition. He also strikes me as a total airhead and political opportunist.

So given a choice between Fine Gael and Fianna Fail, Bertie and Enda, I’ll hold my nose and opt for the former. Ugh. [Though, to clarify, I didn’t–and won’t–vote for either party.]

The good news, Michael McDowell’s misnamed Progressive Democratic party will probably lose seats. They were Fianna Fail’s coalition partner in the last government, holding far more power than their numbers warranted. Their loss will mean a new coalition partner (or partners) will have to be found and early analysts are suggesting it may be the Greens!

Keep your fingers crossed, Shakers…!

(Edited/amended slightly at 5:40 a.m.and 1:53 p.m.)

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