Understanding local elections: part 1
Posted on May 30, 2019
I wrote a post a couple of weeks back about voting in local elections can be kind of pointless. My reasoning for that was if you wanted something done in your area your local representative, regardless of party affiliations, will do something within their power. A bonus for them is if it’s something easy and they get to look great doing it, they’ll jump on it.
I thought maybe I’m too cynical and my extremely few interactions with them made me view them (politicians) the wrong way. As there are local, European elections and a divorce referendum on the 24th of May in Ireland, I thought it was a good time to put myself out there and get to know my local politicians. As the dust has settled from the Irish elections I wanted to write about my experience of putting myself in positions where I could interact with candidates, friends and family and political parties.
To understand my point of view on voting here is a little back story:
My first encounter with my local representatives, during this election, came in the form of some help that I needed in removing an illegally dumped bin. Recently, my friends and I have started collecting rubbish around the beach where we live. We found a bin and needed to figure out a way to dispose of it. I contacted my local council who first put me on a reference list; this is a list that will put me onto the right person to then decide which person will respond to removing the bin. This was a nightmare and a cumbersome essentially I was in touch with three different people who then put me on to someone else.
This is where I thought going to my local representatives would make things easier, I realised that this is how local politicians come in handy. Local politicians help with the problem.
Alas they only pointed me to the place that I went to by myself. I did get in touch (they got in touch with me after I posted on a local Facebook page) with people who volunteer around Balbriggan. They told me that they can get the bin removed by the next day. Unfortunately they were as useful as my local politicians.
I finally got an email back from the people I had emailed and they told me they have removed the bin.
This is my most recent interaction which hasn’t helped me change my mind. So that was three different representatives that I got talking to, I am annoyed that no others on the local Facebook page didn’t bother to reach out, these things happen. Talking to my sister and her experience to canvassers at her door, one of the questions that she wanted addressed was what local politicians can do about housing issues and what met with an honest answer from one ‘not much’. This wasn’t a ringing endorsement to even bother to go out and vote in the first place.
This might have been reflective in voter turnout which was low nationally at 50.2% because voters are becoming more disaffected with the limited powers from local representatives.