Dot writes: here in Ireland, we have a single transferable vote, which means we get to vote for pretty much everyone: we just go down the candidates in order giving them the number of our preference. Of course, the vote only actually gets counted once; if my number one choice already has enough votes to be elected by the time they get to my ballot, they count my vote towards my number two choice, and if the number two choice is already in, my vote goes to number three, and so on and so forth. But it still feels like voting for everybody. I’m going to have fun. First I’ll cast some dull, sensible votes, rather as one starts the day by checking e-mail. Then I’ll put in something a bit more quirky (I still like my local Green candidate, even though when the Greens got into bed with Fianna Fail they contracted the political equivalent of an STD). And then I might try something I’d never normally do, take a thrilling ride to unknown places, and cast a thoroughly irresponsible vote for Sinn Fein. Just because it amuses me to be an English girl voting for people who in my childhood had to be represented on TV by actors because they were so subversive and dangerous. It will be, I don’t know, my number 14 vote or something. I wouldn’t want to actually support them. But in Ireland that doesn’t mean I can’t vote for them.
At college, not only are we about to elect a new Provost but the students are electing officers too. In the Arts Building there’s a discreet A4 poster in the stairwell depicting one of the provostial candidates looking faintly like Ian Richardson in House of Cards, and then in the lobby four or five vast banners with slogans like “Jeff O’Grade for Ents – Jeff O’Grade gets you laid!” Fortunately the student officers aren’t trying to canvas me. As to the would-be provosts I’ve encountered so far, the English chap who thinks the RAE is a good thing and Irish universities need more bench-marking may not have quite captured the mood of the electorate, the candidate who sat with her arms draped over the neighbouring chairs in our School meeting to make herself look bigger cannot possibly agree with us all as fervently and constantly as she said she did, Ian Richardson was friendly over tea, and I’ve heard good things of a fourth candidate who does at least have the merit that his website is headed, not with a big photo of himself, but with a view of the college. Clever marketing, if nothing else. But that is possibly what both college and Ireland need. In the free newspaper on the train this morning there was a story about an agency who are running a competition for the most attractive male and female TDs (dubbed ‘Dail darlings’ and ‘Dail dudes’). This strikes me as taking the Jeff O’Grade approach to the country’s political image.