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Candidate co-option July 29, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, The Left.

It’s a while now since the elections, both European and Local, but one thing that has struck me looking back on the results is how co-opted candidates didn’t appear to have enormous success.

Now, let’s be clear, that’s not the fault of those who were co-opted, or even (mostly) of the parties who co-opted people. Circumstances sometimes simply dictated that the elected person has to step down and/or smaller parties simply lack the personnel to be able to contest elections both at home and abroad.

However, there were at least one or two instances where a successful candidate stepped away from a seat in their term and simply retired. I point no fingers and name no names though one party with the initials L and P didn’t cover itself in glory in that regard.

This is, by any measure, a bizarre eventuality, running for an elected position is something not to be undertaken lightly and in one or two instances where long time politicians contested and held seats only to leave front-line politics entirely is problematic.

But putting that aside from a purely tactical position it didn’t work well at all. And it does suggest that the optimal situation is for a successful candidate to retain their seat.

Hardly a surprise, that. Voters need to build up a sense of who is representing them – particularly those at the European Parliament. Indeed it could well be that the sheer distance that particular forum is from voters on a day to day basis, as distinct from geographically, means that it is only at elections that they get a chance to assess and, in a way, legitimise those who are elected. Once they’re gone that’s grand – from their perspective, but they don’t want that process short-circuited by political machinations subsequently. I think while not necessarily entirely logical it is understandable. And in some respects perhaps that’s the only way it can work given the low interest in the European Parliament between elections.

It will be telling if the current crop of successful candidates decide to remain in situ across the life of the European parliament.

Just on that psychological distance it will also be interesting to chart the progress of some of the newly elected MEPs whose ability to shape the narrative here will be significantly less than might have been hitherto.


1. steve white - July 30, 2014

I tried to keep a note of who left a about year before the elections particularily because I was pissed at Peter Coyle LP Fingal who blatently said he stepping down to give his replcement a head start https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AqAEiinGYynOdEdoVzg5NzJDa2Q2eGxoaldNWHNNc3c&usp=drive_web#gid=0 and yes of the list I noted more of replacements lost then seats then kept them, but that was more to do with government backlash then anything else i think


2. Alibaba - July 30, 2014

Yes, “co-opted candidates didn’t appear to have enormous success”. Fair comment. What’s going on here?

I consider it is worthwhile noting that even when these local councillor candidates were endorsed by TDs, especially those TDs with high profiles, the results were disappointing. Some such candidates were weak in terms of their experience and resources; others were more than fit for purpose. What makes the difference is this: people vote for candidates who have built up local groups and who have an electoral machine. The bottom line is that people will vote for individuals who have a record of activity in the community and who have hopped onto the meet-and-greet roundabout – familiarity matters.

Voters might have an instinctual dislike of co-optees they see as Johnny-come-lately candidates. Also, those candidates who are articulate, who have money aplenty for election postering, who are female and (like it or not) are conventionally good looking tend to do well. It is interesting that new faces, even first-time-runners, who were never co-opted (including some Independents), did well too.


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