Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Elections

So campaign posters have been springing up all over the city like crocuses these last few days. Campaigns here in Northern Ireland only run for a few weeks, instead of months on end like we see in the states (the elections, for anyone just joining us, will be on March 7th). I personally think that's a much better plan, because it means officials are spending more time doing their jobs and less time campaigning.

I'm finding it a little amusing that Sinn Fein's got all their Irish-language posters up on the waterside and their English ones up in the city centre. That seems a little bit backwards because the waterside area is mostly Protestant. In the end, though, I suppose it doesn't really matter. L/Derry's pretty much an SDLP town, near as I can tell.

It's a very exciting time to be studying the situation here. Northern Ireland has been under direct rule from Westminster since 2002, and as I understand it, they were also under direct rule prior to 1998. What's that mean? Think of the situation DC's in, and you've pretty much got Northern Ireland (though NI does elect members of parliament, which is more than DC can say about congress). Politicians that are not in any way accountable to the people of Northern Ireland get to make decisions about their taxes, their schools, their health care... even the structure of their government. They can choose to start initiatives (like the water tax) that everyone here hates. And why not? Northern Ireland is not their constituency.

If these elections go off without trouble, Northern Ireland is finally looking at a long-term devolved government. No matter which side of the conflict you're on, being able to vote the people who levy your taxes in and out of office has got to be pretty nice. And for me, having a court-side seat as history unfolds is pretty nice too.

I'm going down to Belfast tomorrow for my interview at the integrated school. Everyone wish me luck!

4 comments:

Jediowl said...

The Assembly does have its downside, though. It's got Sinn Fein in it, paying for two lots of politicians (three when you count MEPs), especially when they aren't even running, they never can agree on anything except raising their salaries, did ~I mention it has Sinn Fein in it...

Annalee said...

Yeah, for the record, Sinn Fein's starting to creep me out. I have little trouble imagining an Ireland in which they've achieved all their goals, and honestly? CREEPY.

The fact that they proudly declare how much time their candidates have spent in jail for paramilitary-related activities also doesn't bode well for how dedicated they are to the peace process. Just sayin'.

My position on the constitutional question at this point is: I don't live here, so I don't have the right to have a position. It's not like I have one that I don't feel like I shoud share. I honestly just don't have one. I mean I make no bones about being a pacifist and generally abhoring violence of all kinds, but this isn't my conflict (despite the common Irish-American attitude to the contrary. Irish-American=American; does not even remotely = Irish).

And yet Sinn Fein still creeps me out.

Jediowl said...

It's really hard to carry on a conversation where you don't get emailed replies!

Only starting to creep you out? :-P I am extremely sceptical about how close they still are to the IRA, and how close the dissidents (Omagh bombers, etc) are to the PIRA.

You know, re your original entry, direct rule isn't as terrible as all that: NI now has 17 seats in the Commons, IIRC, which is the same representation per capita as England gets.

Of course, the NI presence at Westminster is lowered by the fact that Sinn Fein refuse to take part, but if you vote for them in the first place you ought to know what you're getting.

Jediowl said...

18 seats, actually.