Donegal: The Last Word

Briefly:

Doherty had an easy campaign and was the sure victor for the last two weeks of the process. Will get re-elected when the nation goes to the polls.

O’ Domhnaill surprised me with the amount of first preferences he received, but the national situation, with the bailout and the four-year plan, destroyed his chances completely. Not likely to run next time I think. No room on the ticket. But Fianna Fail will take some heart from the result, though not much. They still lost a seat they would have been sure of winning…if they’d only held the election a year and a half ago. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

O’ Neill was deeply unimpressive and his second place finish, more on transfers than anything else, puts gloss on an otherwise dire electoral campaign. Indications are that he will run again, but he will require transfers to get a Dail seat, transfers I don’t think he can get. Fine Gael would do well to pick someone else next time.

McBrearty was all talk and despite favorable poll numbers, finished last* (could it be that polls are garbage? Perish the thought). All the talk about Labour “tripling their vote” seems like hyperbole to me: Bottom line, he got thrashed in an election he really should have gotten a higher place in. Will probably run again come general election time, but I am not at all convinced that Donegal will elect a Labour man. And I know that there are many Labour men/women out there hoping that Donegal situation will not turn out to be a barometer of that in Ireland overall: where the parties election numbers come nowhere near to what they had in polls.

Pringle can take heart from beating out McBrearty but his low finish was predictable from an independent candidate. May run again, but the result will be the same.

Sweeney pulled out, a move that merely makes her seem more irrelevant to the process. She says she will run again. She’ll finish last again.

Fianna Fail’s numbers, in an election many thought would see them crash and burn in, will make the general election in Donegal South West, with Mary Coughlan and co in the mix, a very interesting one to watch.

Of course, it is important to note tat the apparent surprise in this result (some of it anyway) may not really be a surprise at all. It strikes me that this was a local election that the country turned into a national debate, myself included. I think expectations might have been colored by people who know next to nothing about how the local system of politics worked in Donegal South-West and this result backs that up. A friend of mine from Monaghan says “Nobody votes Labour on the border”. A large amount of people said otherwise. Who was right? I said O’ Domhnaill would crash and burn. His campaign staff said otherwise. Who was right?

All politics is local I guess. Next time, a little less listening to Vincent Browne and co, a little more reading local commentary.

*That is, finished last out of those candidates who remained in the race properly: The record will show that Sweeney finished last officially.

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1 Response to Donegal: The Last Word

  1. It will be interesting to see how this constituency votes in the General Election.

    I don’t think people should be surprised that the FF vote was as high as it was; FF threw everything including senior ministers (doubtful value though they might have been) at getting the FF vote out.

    What should surprise people is that their share of the vote (around 50% or 2 TDs elected worth) is now at 21%. On those numbers, FF will struggle to get a single candidate elected unless they get generous transfers. Which is a huge shock in itself. This is the sort of constituency where FF should do better than anywhere else! The fact that with all the effort they put in they could only finish third behind SF *and* FG says a lot about the damage done to the party.

    Labour doing poorly is no surprise. They have no base voters in places like Donegal – many of those that did vote for McBrearty were doing so as a personal vote. I think Labour would do well to run a different candidate next time round. He blustered a lot but said little of worth.

    The Fine Gael candidate was, well, dull. He put in a decent performance to grab second in the poll, but if FG want to build on the 2007 performance they need to do a far better job of running their campaigns. He failed to register, for me.

    As for Pearse Doherty? People may say he was going to win anyhow because of the court challenge. That may well be true. But the strength of the SF vote was an eye-opener.

    How much of that was down to SF’s success in capturing the mood of the people? And how much was down to the fact that of all the candidates, Pearse Doherty was the most presentable, the most eloquent, and the most authorative of them all?

    Though given his rivals’ collective lack of charisma, perhaps that’s no surprise at all.

    Good result. Let’s see how it goes in a full election scenario.

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