All I wanted for Christmas was an election

Patricia Feehily


Patricia Feehily

All I wanted for Christmas was an election

SO we’ve stepped back from the brink of the precipice then, and now there’ll be no sleigh bells in the snow announcing visits from would-be TDs bearing sacks full of promises for the years ahead. I’m gutted. I really wanted a Christmas election to help relieve the tedium and stress of the shopping. Now I’m going to have to rely on Santa Claus for the goodies.

Everyone else is breathing a huge sigh of relief that an election has been averted and we can get on with the annual spending splurge without having to go to the polls.

It feels like we’ve just been spared the Bubonic plague this time round.

Frances, by all accounts, did the ‘right thing’. But I hope she didn’t resign her post specifically for the good of the country, because this isn’t 1916 and nobody dies for Ireland anymore. Sure, we love a head on a plate, but her gesture won’t even be remembered, especially after Christmas when we’re back on the precipice again, trying to pay off the credit cards with an election still in the offing. But I have a feeling we’ll steer clear of the cliff edge from now on.

But surely I can’t have been the only one in the country rubbing my hands in glee at the prospect of a yuletide election. I had even been hoping for heavy snow to enhance the atmosphere and so that the canvassers would have to use snowploughs to get my vote. Elections in general make me feel very important. It’s the only time anyone listens to me. Anyway, as my mother used to say of those ubiquitous heavy Christmas snowfalls of my childhood, an election would have cleared the air.

The thing is we’ve never experienced a Christmas election before, and going to the polls a week or two before the big day might have done wonders for us, what with it being the season of goodwill and all that. It might have been particularly jolly. With temperatures plummeting and snow expected, and the dark of the winter solstice looming, we surely wouldn’t have had to face the usual election poster eyesores on every pole and hoarding. Neither side, however, wanted an election, nor, we were told in a five minute ‘Liveline’ poll, did 70 per cent of the population. When did five minute polls become so reliable? Nevertheless, you’d think that the country was facing spontaneous combustion so intense was the reported aversion to being plunged into an election at this particular time.

There really must be something up, I said to myself, if the politicians don’t want to come face to face with us before the winter solstice. But while I can fully understand why the politicians might be a bit jittery, what’s wrong with the rest of us? How did we become so disparaging of our democratic system and so disloyal to our forebears who fought hard to win us the right to govern ourselves, that we’d find it a major inconvenience to exercise the franchise in the middle of the Christmas rush? There are places on the planet where people are prepared to walk miles in dreadful conditions under threat of attack in order to cast a vote. Even the Three Wise Men were prepared travel at Christmas, guided only by a star. But we wouldn’t hear of our wise men going to the country right now in case it might interfere with our revelries.

Now, despite having caught a fit of election fever earlier in the week, I have to admit that the thoughts of one interfering with the Brexit talks did worry me a little bit. But I’m not one of those who believe that Britain and the rest of Europe are watching us like hawks right now in case we put a step wrong or in case we might look weaker than we really are. I was more concerned, to be honest, about the threat to the extra fiver for the Old Age Pensioners. As usual I had counted my chickens before they were even hatched, but on the other hand I couldn’t see any reason why an election should have affected the hatching.

Incidentally, I hadn’t much sympathy either with Willie O’Dea’s concerns about having to compete with the carol singers on the doorstep. There’s no competition, Willie! Now, that we’re back on terra firma again, I don’t feel any better than I did when we were on the precipice. Climbing back from edge didn’t do anything at all for my vertigo. The Christmas shopping has to be done without a bit of diversion to ease the tedium, and I’ve just discovered that it now costs a euro to send a single Christmas card by post to anyplace in Ireland - unless you’re a member of the Oireacthas of course. I’m afraid I’m going to have to put my Christmas greetings through the letter boxes myself this year.

Meanwhile, the ironic thing is that our leaders are still hanging on by their finger-nails. So, at the end of the day, we’ll just have to get over this polling booth phobia, and go to polls as soon as it’s convenient.