Everything Could Change in Upcoming Election, says Expert

January 16, 2011 Updated: October 1, 2015

Irish general election will take place in early 2011 (JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images)
Irish general election will take place in early 2011 (JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images)
DUBLIN—When the decision is made as to which bank to open our first account at, we often decide to go with the one that our parents banked with, or one where we know a staff member, and after that we usually stay with that bank for life. This is a similar process to our deciding on which party to vote for.

However, the banking model has been turned on its head in recent times. The Epoch Times contacted Professor Neil Collins, Department of Government, University College Cork, to find out if the same applies to voting habits.

When it comes to who we vote for there is normally a convention; however, according to Professor Collins, the election on the horizon is “a most unusual election.”

“People don't change their vote much … if someone has voted between the age of 18 and 21, the likelihood is that they will always vote in the same direction for the rest of their lives,” says Professor Collins.

There is, however, an exception to this norm, which is that during times of crisis, the electorate may change their voting direction.

“In a crisis that all changes … if the election is dramatic enough then you can see big changes, and it looks like we are going to be coming on one of those occasions … a most unusual election.”

“Despite the fact that the rhetoric is about conflict, competition etc. the major characteristic is continuity: most incumbents get re-elected, but once in a while there is a big shifting election and this looks like being one of those,” said Professor Collins.

The electorate, according to Professor Collins, may consider “changing the habits of a lifetime.”

The politicians

The electorate can only vote for those who run for election, and the majority of parties will, of course, only put forward candidates which they think will win.

Professor Collins pointed out that when a party chooses a person to stand in an election, they are not necessarily concerned with what qualifications the candidate has: the main criteria they are concerned about is whether they can win the seat for the party. “To be able to speak well and have a lot of name recognition – these are much more important things than saying you have a professional qualification in law, accounting or other academic profession.”

Professor Collins explained that our current set of TD's are “disproportionately male, middle class and from the 'talking professions’.”

“If you are not able to stand up, make speeches, and talk, you are unlikely to want to become a politician,” said Professor Collins.

This is perhaps one reason why many of our politicians are from teaching and legal backgrounds. “Teaching and the legal profession often do well in politics because these people are well known in their communities,” said Professor Collins.

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