Students give up on Irish presidential race after drawn out bickering - VIDEO
Posted on Monday, October 10, 2011 at 07:46 PM
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Irish students could no longer care who the next head of state is.
That's the impression I was left with after co-ordinating a pre-election poll at University College Cork last week and speaking to about 300 students about whom they would vote for on election day.
The survey was part of a nationwide student poll being co-ordinated by Dublin's The College Tribune, the results of which are being published tomorrow, and pollsters in other parts of the country reported very similar feedback.
Perhaps most shocking of all though was the number of students unaware that an election was on in two weeks.
A recurring dialogue went something like:
"Who are you voting for in the presidential election?"
"President of what? Of UCC [University College Cork]"
"No, of the country"
"Is there an election on?!"
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Besides those who were presumably sequestered in a cave while the Norris / Byrne / McGuinness scandals boiled over, the vast majority were simply disinterested in who they were going to vote for.
Most of those who knew an election was on seemed to share my feeling that as there was nobody left worth voting for, it was better to commit that grave democratic sin of forgoing one's suffrage and simply not vote on election day, or in the alternative to spoil the vote as minor mark of disinterest in the candidates.
Tellingly, though, even those on the threshold of being unaware that there was a presidential election in a few weeks seemed to realize the farcical mud-slinging match which it has descended into.
Those unaware what the candidates were called, or what, if any, party they were affiliated to, proved able to identify them by prompting a controversy that they were involved in.
Norris was the letters guy, disability pay taker, among many other monikers; McGuinness the IRA man; Davis the Board expenses woman and so on and so forth (Mitchell unsurprisingly was usually just referred to as the boring guy).
However even those knew who the candidates were were really only interested in voting for two.
Just as repeated opinion polls show at a national level, the presidential election from students has condensed itself into a two horse race between Michael D Higgins and Seán Gallagher.
My personal interest in either is not very high.
Michael D, who came to speak at UCC last week, proved so horribly uninteresting that I forewent a pre-arranged photo opportunity and left in boredom after ten minutes of discussion by him on ancient literature, while Gallagher is largely, and rightly in my book, perceived as more of a businessman than president.
Having blogged about the presidential race on this website for a while now, I think that it was actually those candidates that never made it to the final nominations who were actually the best ones: Gay Byrne, Niall O'Dowd and Fergus Finlay would all have been eminently better than having Higgins instated to the Áras in my book.
What exactly 'Michael D' has done to convince the 25% of the Red C poll who said they'd give him their first preference on the 28th to vote for him is beyond me.
But perhaps the answer is very simple: there's simply nobody better left.
Below: Ireland's (probable) future president reading some of his poetry: