Tuesday 6 December 2016

Beware the election promises that could bankrupt the nation

Published 23/01/2016 | 02:30

Photo: PA
Photo: PA

Watched any 'EastEnders' recently? Everyone on the Square now seems to be a murderer, rapist, thief, adulterer or spouse-beater. So much so that there is talk of bringing the whole 30-year farrago to a close. The reason is simple enough. When a soap opera has been running for decades, the scripts have to become ever more dramatic to maintain audience interest - or perhaps even scriptwriter interest. Something similar seems to be happening to Irish election campaigns.

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Admittedly, this particular soap got off to the most dramatic of starts, with the 1997 Fianna Fáil manifesto promising, among other things, to abolish car tax and domestic property tax. The audience was more than interested, and the party was elected with a thumping majority.

Both car tax and domestic property tax returned in due course but the pattern had been set. Promising to cut taxes is the big draw for the audience and has been central to every election since.

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