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Unpopular populists… July 23, 2021

Posted by guestposter in Uncategorized.
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Interesting point in the current issue of the Phoenix which notes the very poor performance certain parties and groups at the polls at the recent by-election.

This was just 14 votes behind the 183 (0.65%) cast for leader of the even more right-wing National party, Justin Barrett, in the same byelection. It is hard to interpret trends from such low votes but it looks like those right-wing parties that have attempted to mobilise people angered and frustrated by Covid restrictions have become even more, rather than less, unpopular during the pandemic.

Certainly there were those, many of us indeed, who thought that there might be an opening for them given they were the most visible political expression on the streets during the last year and a bit. Of course they were, their ideological approach revelled in that as against a more circumspect left. And they appeared to believe that there was a huge constituency for their actions that only required the opportunity to express itself at the polls. 

But difficult not to see much of this as a result of a function of the following dynamics that the same magazine describes:

Even worse for some of the principal players in this right-wing milieu is that some of them – like Cahill, John Waters and Gemma O’Doherty – are seen as eccentric, if not entirely harmless, given the exotic claims they have made about the measures that have been taken to fight Covid.

An interesting thought arises as regards a different group of anti-lockdown politicians of a more traditionally conservative hue who are represented in the Oireachtas and whether they too have quite factored in a broader caution about and support for constraints on the pandemic. Certainly polling suggests that there’s much less antagonism to the course the government has taken across the period of the pandemic than some might have expected, and perhaps therein lies less opportunity for politicians to capitalise on supposed dissent from those constraints. 

Comments»

1. Ian - July 23, 2021

Yes. Unpopular in the polls but then weeks later popular on the streets at the Convention Centre and at Aras an uachtarain

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WorldbyStorm - July 23, 2021

But that’s the problem. It’s not that difficult to have a crowd assemble but a crowd assembling isn’t an effective measure of political power let alone popularity because it’s relatively easily done. For years now I’ve gone on DCTU marches where up to 10k have turned up annually but and this is no slight against those organising it that hasn’t translated into political influence let alone power. That’s the key distinction here. Political influence and power comes from much deeper roots in communities and across society. Why did FF organise within unions until the last twenty five years, etc etc. Protests are largely, not entirely, sideshows and performative. I work up the street from Leinster House and near the entrance to Agriculture House. Day after day in normal times there are protests of one kind or another outside both. I couldn’t begin to list off those there because thereve been so many and I’d argue that broadly speaking they too have little impact most of them – some of them, many of them should have. Sooner or later more normal times return and it’ll be the same dynamic I’d imagine.

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WorldbyStorm - July 23, 2021

That said what is your read on their later appearances and what’s your feeling about how things can go?

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2. NFB - July 23, 2021

Would it be fair to say that not everyone who turns up to protest about COVID-related legislation would be willing to vote for someone like Barrett? Just because one thinks nanobots are in the vaccine (another thing vomited at me the other day) doesn’t mean they are a racist.

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WorldbyStorm - July 23, 2021

Yeah, indeed that has to be a problem for the far right, the flakey, new age, stuff is a big chunk of those there. It’s not a good look – Dolores C and Gemma yokes antics are poison to efforts to make them look serious – and let’s not talk about the latter crews supporters.

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