09 April 2008

Leaders by Acclamation

And so Brian Cowen is leader-designate of Fianna Fáil, and will be only the seventh leader in the party's 82-year history. And this being the way of things, in about a month's time he'll become our eleventh Taoiseach.

I was talking about this to an old friend last night, and couldn't help but grin at how it seemed only the other week -- in reality it was half a lifetime ago -- that he was bubbling over in school at the thought that Brian Cowen, his old family friend, someone his Mum had babysat in her day, had been appointed to the cabinet.
'Mam was talking to him last night,' he said, 'He's really excited.'
'I bet he is. How's your Mam taking it?'
'Oh, she's thrilled!'
It's far too strange, really. There shouldn't only be just one genuine link between me and the head of our government. I live in a village.

I passed the Dáil today when the Soldiers of Destiny were gathering outside for their family photograph. The last couple of weeks have been peculiar. Bertie's resignation was odd enough -- not that he didn't have reason to resign, just that he's brassed so much out already I'd assumed he'd keep going. But watching the Fianna Fáil leadership so calmly floating over to Cowan's head has been bizarre. It just seems freakish that the position shouldn't be contested. I appreciate how popular he is within the party, and how his loyalty is admired by all his colleagues, but even so, he's hardly the only person among the Fianna Fáil front ranks who'd have the ability and the appetite for the top job.

Speaking of uncontested elections, our society -- the second-oldest in the college -- appointed its new auditor today, joining an illustrious line that includes, um, me. Oddly, browsing through the auditorial list today, I realised just how rare elections have been in the society, and spoke to a couple of others who'd likewise taken the helm about this.
'I think I'm the only person in about fifteen years, maybe more, who was actually elected in a contested election,' I frowned.
'What? Someone ran against you?'
'Heh. No, it was the other way round. I ran against someone. There was already somebody who looked set to slide into the position without any objections. It's a long story.'
'What was the vote like?'
'Horribly close. I won by one vote. 41 for me, 40 against. Imagine if I hadn't voted for myself!'
'Hmmm. And it hasn't happened since. A short-lived experiment with democracy interrupting a long-line of automatic succession...'

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