As for those voters who wouldn't necessarily be described as "left" but who we'd nonetheless hoped to get the support of, well, it seems pretty simple. The anti-FF ones didn't want to vote for us because we all but said we'd support the government. And the pro-FF ones just voted for FF. Some of them transfered to us, but nowhere near enough.
I'm gutted for people like Larry O'Toole and Dessie Ellis, who've done absolutely stellar work in their constituencies for years and deserved to be rewarded for it. And for Seán Crowe, a truly dedicated public rep. And I can't even bear the thought of Aengus Ó Snodaigh losing his seat.
If there's any silver lining, there were a few constituencies where we performed better than most of us were expecting, such as Cork East, Limerick East and Kerry South. A lot of those who missed out are young enough to have a good go at it again in five years. And of course, there's the PD/Michael McDowell wipeout. But it's really not much consolation. We had a terrible election, and we need to learn from it. I'm not at all confident that we will, though.
As for the other parties, it's interesting the way that the media are spinning some of their results. Have a look at the end of this article, where Labour is described as having "recovered well" - by holding even or losing a seat. The Greens' poor results are glossed over although they look like doing the same. We could end up losing no more seats than either of those parties - yet we get the "big losers" tag and they don't.
I'm aware that this will seem like sour grapes, but it has to be said that the results don't show the electorate in a particularly good light. Look at some of the baffling decisions they have made:
- In Monaghan, a constituency where the biggest issue is the pending loss of the local hospital, the voters turfed out the hospital candidate (who was admittedly a bit useless) and voted in a member of the party whose government is responsible for the loss of the hospital.
- In Galway West, where the water's been undrinkable for months, a member of the Government tops the polls.
- With a similar situation unfolding in Wicklow, the Environment Minister gets nearly a quota on the first count.
- And I'm not even going to get into some of the things I heard on the doors during this campaign. Let's just say that this was a big victory for clientelism over any sort of ideology.
Finally, while I generally support PR-STV because of the unique ability it gives to small parties and independents to get elected, questions do have to be asked about the fairness of a system under which a candidate who gets 939 votes can get in ahead of candidates who poll over 3000 (see the Dublin Central results). But of course, since Fianna Fáil have benefitted from this system, it will never change.
It's a depressing five years we have ahead of us.