Saturday 22 October 2016

Election 2016: Some things we learned on the campaign trail

Published 27/02/2016 | 08:22

Is it any wonder Labour has no TD under the age of 30?
Is it any wonder Labour has no TD under the age of 30?

This month’s short general election campaign certainly wouldn’t go down as the most exciting but it still had its moments.

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As the nation waits to see who will take the reins following the results of Friday’s polling, looks back on some of the things we learned while on the campaign trail:

The term 'fiscal space' should be outlawed

Whichever civil servant in the Department of Finance proposed the use of the term 'fiscal space' can wave their promotion goodbye.

As it’s been hammered home, fiscal space is the amount of extra spending that might be available over the next five years if the economy continues to grow strongly.

Read More: They said it . . . election quotes

The term was aptly labelled the ‘f word’ - but only after voters was subjected to four days of arguments over the amount of money available to spend and cut taxes.

Sinn Féin claimed it was the only party to get the numbers right, while doubts were raised about Fine Gael’s competency that everything will be fine as long as nothing goes wrong.

Gerry Adams urgently requires maths lesson

The Sinn Féin leader's grasp of numbers was almost as frightening as his republican past.

During various media interviews, Mr Adams appeared to confuse even himself over his party’s tax and economic proposals.

Read More: Adams's gaffes on tax policy

More than once he took issue with interviewees questioning his grasp of figures.

As Joan Burton put it, he was guilty of spouting "fuzzy economics".

The stress is getting to Enda Kenny

Does Enda Kenny still have enough of a steady hand to lead the country? Apparently not, after he fell foul of TV3’s ‘Steady Hand Game’.

The last political leader to take up the challenge, the Taoiseach gave a performance on Ireland AM that was sure to leave a few people worrying about his nerves.

Alan Kelly can be kept quiet, and probably should be

Labour's deputy leader became somewhat of a liability for the party, particularly after his quip that “power is drug… it suits me”.

Read More: Alan Kelly: 'Power is a drug . . . it suits me'

After a series of rows, controversies, and claims he was derailing Labour’s re-election campaign, Mr Kelly soon took a back seat - instead deciding to spend more time with the Tipperary natives than with the nation’s media.

Fine Gael never had a plan B

If at first you don't succeed, try, try and try again. But at some point, you just need to stop.

Fine Gael proved it had no plan B when its key slogan 'Keep the Recovery Going' bombed on the doorstep.

Refusing to give up on the message ‘It’s the economy, stupid’, the party faithful continued to parrot the line across the airwaves despite it providing ammunition for the opposition. 

Even lacklustre TV debates still matter

All three debates attracted huge viewing figures and exposed the good, the bad and the ugly of our political leaders.

Exchanges on the economy, the health service, housing and political appointments were made throughout but no one seemed capable of scoring a knock blow.

Read More: Report cards: How the leaders scored

Still, despite the lukewarm offerings, the debates scored big with voters - some 570,000 tuned in to watch the final ahead of Friday's polling.

Without doubt the real winners of the debates were the presenters, in particular Claire Byrne and Miriam O'Callaghan.

Read More: What was the most discussed #GE16 issue on Twitter?

Labour should brush up on its pop culture

Labour’s campaign was beset by various issues and a couple of ill-conceived campaign adverts did not help matters.

First there was the leaked draft ad showing Gerry Adams and Micheál Martin as a gay couple on their wedding day.

Then there was Labour's 'No Direction' ad, taken out in national newspapers, depicted five Opposition leaders as members of the famous boy band.

The snappy advert was quickly brought down to earth by Lucinda Creighton, who pointed out that the band now has only four members following the departure of Zayn Malik.

Is it any wonder Labour has no TD under the age of 30?

Irish people are the most polite in the world

Incredibly, not a single candidate seemed to report receiving a negative reaction on the doorsteps despite many taking the opportunity to demonstration whenever a prominent politician was doing a walkabout.

Joan Burton drinks her tea black

They say black tea is good for stress levels - is it any wonder the Labour leader prefers hers without any milk?

If polls are to believed, her party is teetering on brink, while she herself is facing a serious uphill battle to keep her Dublin West seat.

She, too, is also probably never wants to hear the phrase ‘fiscal space’ again.

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