Emigration issue will put a different spin on elections

World of Politics with Harry McGee

The legendary political correspondent with The Irish Independent, Chris Glennon, was sometimes tackled about getting his predictions wrong. His stock answer was: “I was right at the time.”

It’s an answer that I could have used a multitude of times during my career, but being wrong doesn’t stop us from making predictions – or the public expecting us to make predictions.

What is beyond speculation is that 2024 is going to be a year peppered with elections. We have two here, the local elections and the European elections. It’s also hugely likely that we will have a general election.

In the autumn, the talk was that the Coalition parties would not be running any TDs in the European election, to allow the Government the longest possible run. That was never really going to happen. Parties can’t really stop their representatives from standing. We live in a democracy after all.

And so we have already had a number of TDs express an interest in running for Europe and there is more than a chance that at least one – Barry Cowen of Fianna Fáil – will get elected.

And if any TD gets elected, it means only one thing for the Government. A by-election at the worst possible moment – right at the end of its term.

By-elections can mean little in wider electoral terms but they can also mean a hell of a lot, especially when they are held very close to a general election.

There were two by-elections after the 2014 European elections after TDs Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan and Brian Hayes were elected to Europe. There were four in 2019 when two Independent TDs were elected – Clare Daly and Mick Wallace – as well as Fianna Fail’s Billy Kelleher and Frances Fitzgerald of Fine Gael.

Pictured: Mary Lou McDonald…emigration may change election momentum.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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