One of the few consistent dynamics in the elections north and south was the success of the Green party. In the south the party’s Euro candidate, and former minister of environment Eamon Ryan, is probably kicking himself that he didn’t also run for a seat in Dublin city council.
That a minister from the last very unpopular administration was so close to becoming an MEP is testimony to two things: one, the change in the general mood; and two the glaring contrast with the terminal fate of the PDs.
You cannot kill an idea etc etc.
Aside from that Ryan is by Irish standards a pretty unshowy, and unpolemical politician and the very antithesis of the populism so evident right across the southern state in the last five to ten years. Competing so keenly in the newly three seatered Dublin seat ought not to be underestimated in that regard.
Voter volatility has been the principle characteristic of the Irish polity since the onset of the banking crisis. And in that time it has favoured oppositional and independent voices. Ryan’s near success may be an indicator that voters may be beginning to look for ‘solution finders’ almost as much ‘wreckers’. Alternatively of course it may just be a convenient port in the ongoing storm for middle-class Labour voters.
As far as the northern party – and former poor relation in the family business – is concerned four counsellors into two contingent super councils is a great deal more than I and many others would have predicted five or six years ago when pretty much all they had was a single MLA.
Our peculiar PR system insists that parties build from the ground up John Barry is topping the poll in Holywood with 1500 votes was in its own modest way a remarkable testimony to working the ground assiduously over and over again.
RPA and the re-organisation of local government was always going to be as stiff test for such small parties. But it is something that the Green party has been preparing for since around 2006 and 2007. Nothing comes quickly or easily under STV.
An heroic recovery which probably underlines the idea that there is always space for the Greens even when we don’t have them.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty