So how did you do in the end?

People's party candidates for president and vi...

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Not well, terrible, awful, and almost embarrassingly so. To get only half the votes what I got the last time out was very disappointing and not a little soul destroying.  Still, I was contesting it in the almost certain knowledge that I wasn’t going to be elected so distinctions in the margin of defeat matter little in the larger scheme of things. Or so I tell myself.

I am immensely grateful and appreciative of those who voted for me and those who asked others to do so on my behalf. I just wish I would have paid them back with a better showing.

The rather depressing truth is that unless you enter the Seanad campaign for either TCD or NUI with a pre-existing media profile then you won’t get a profile during the course of the campaign proper and unless you’ve got some grouping that are exclusively backing you or favourably disposed to you from knowing you or your work from having worked with you then you won’t get significant votes. It’s pointless deluding oneself that the election process (or any election process for that matter) is one orientated towards any sort of objective assessment of the respective campaigns. It requires some degree of name recognition from the get go, after that people might do some comparison shopping.

So whether it is having lectured or been known to many graduates prior to the  election taking place or having Union backing, even if it is from a minority of those union members eligible to vote, is a real significant boost.

We can’t be blind either to the role of incumbency and spending in this election, something about which there needs to be more openness at the time of the electorate casting their ballots. The problems that arise from this process give us pointers to some of the potential problems that would arise from changes to the existing Dáil electoral system.

It is also a side problem of temptation for some candidates who get swept up in the fervour of a campaign and who end up losing the run of themselves. At least one candidate in 2007 and another different one this time sent direct mail outs to votes for next to no avail. Enough money is spent on the Litir Um Thoghchan than to be compounding the problem by throwing your own money down the drain without a thought for the future. Naivety is only the half of it.

It is also long past time that a means to get people on the register more easily was allowed for. If you were someone who was all geed up by the election just past and you decide to send in your details during it, you would still not be on the register until June of 2012 and that’s just a plain unacceptable state of affairs.

The issue of Seanad specific electoral and political reform has been broadly superseded by that of abolition of the Seanad and changes to the wider political system. I don’t have a cadre of supporters who have voting rights that I can readily appeal to, or a block vote that will troop in behind me because of some label I’m wearing,  and I’m not a media personality that will get coverage during the campaign. This is two elections in a row in which the new person to win a seat on the NUI panel has been someone with a profile afforded to them by the media, and yet the media will profess that they don’t involve themselves in elections. If some other person with a similar professional or policy profile to either Sen. Mullen or Sen. Crown was contesting the elections but without the prior media exposure would they have polled as well as they did. I’m sure there are plenty of socially conservative or concerned doctors who might have run, only they are not in the media spotlight.

There appears to have been some talk in the aftermath about the need for a unity teacher candidate, though I think that is to patronise members of the teaching profession. The majority of those who are teachers still choose not to support the various union proxies. In large part the most probable reason is that they don’t feel being a teacher is the single most important thing in their lives. The ludicrous notion is that teachers are somehow so set apart from other professions that they simply must have their own candidate in an election strikes me as odd.

There was a time when almost all primary school teachers could rely on the assumption that they were bettered educated than the parents of most of the children they taught. That is no longer the case and it would appear some teachers, at least, have not adjusted to this reality at all. Too many parents even today encounter the odd practice of teachers using ‘the voice’ on them and it strikes them as downright rude and arrogant. Teachers like individuals who have professions and those who don’t have their diverse political views and are entitled to express them, but the notion that teachers need to be contesting elections as ‘teachers’ is a practice whose day should be done.

I wish the elected Senators well in their undertaking, I do admit surprise at Prof John Crown’s pronouncement that he will not be standing again under the current system. With the stated focus on abolition, I can’t detect at present any appetite for legislation for reform just in case abolition doesn’t happen. So it’s this system or none or so it seems for now.

As for me, I can’t see what future purpose might be served by my contesting this panel as it is currently constituted. So if it’s all the all set up the next time I can’t see me running. Thanks again to those who did support me, either by voting or simply wishing me well. It was appreciated.

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