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Why I won the Irish General Election

February 28, 2016

I won the election cos I scored my best (i.e. most popular) tweet ever.

For the two or three of you who haven’t seen it – it looked like this.

“What a Fianna Fáil-Fine Gael coalition might look like…


At time of posting, this tweet scored as follows… 31,398 impressions, 240 likes and 291 retweets.

This score beats what was my previously energetic tweet – a picture of Senator David Norris looking happy at the outcome of the Marriage Equality referendum, which scored 22, 350 impressions, 169 likes and 126 retweets.

The polls had just closed on Friday night and I was thinking a bit about the electoral arithmetic and the paradoxes of an enforced coalition between Ireland’s two dominant political parties.   Such a coalition would mark the end of “Who Killed Who in the 1920s?”politics, and all neatly in time for the 1916 centenary.   It would be trumpeted as a grand note of reconciliation.  It would be called “historic” – largely because politicians and journalists love calling things “historic”.

As it happens, my wife and I both enjoy Scottish ancestry and I’m pretty sure that her ancestors massacred my ancestors at some point – but for most of the time, this is not a problem between us.  We’ve put it behind us.  And the actual ideological differences between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael in the twenty-first century do not seem to warrant some permanent ban on coalition partnership.   Tweedledum and Tweedledee as I was originally thinking.  You could call the coalition – “Tweedledumdeedumdeedum”.

But then we started watching The Shining and I saw those two girls.  And I thought “that’s a much better image”.  And hours later, I thought of posting “and here’s the coalition after a few weeks” with a picture of their butchered bodies – but some intelligent respondent had already replied to me with that pic and suggestion.

If this coalition happens, it will look very very much like what it is – the Establishment abandoning a phony antagonism in order to stem the tide of political realignment.

“We are the big parties who enjoy hating one another – we love to hate each other and hate to have to oppose anyone else.  Hopefully this arrangement won’t last too long – there will be another election and at least one of us will be strong enough to govern with a minnow party and we’ll get back to the Dáil Éireann we remember.  Because when we’re at loggerheads, we help narrow and contain the field of political possibility – pretending we’re poles apart while squeezing the poles quite close together.  For this awkward period when we share the same benches, there’s a terrible possibility that folks will start to argue about stuff that’s real.”

But whoever lost yesterday – and many people did – I at least won.  Demonstrably, and quantifiably, I managed to cobble together a great tweet.

And as Spiderman’s uncle once said – “with a great tweet – comes absolutely no responsibility.”



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