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Political careers are on the line as party members decide the fate of the country

Philip Ryan


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All eyes on the Greens: Party leader Eamon Ryan at Leinster House for talks on forming a coalition. Photo: Collins

All eyes on the Greens: Party leader Eamon Ryan at Leinster House for talks on forming a coalition. Photo: Collins

Micheál Martin

Micheál Martin

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All eyes on the Greens: Party leader Eamon Ryan at Leinster House for talks on forming a coalition. Photo: Collins

In Britain, the tradition is that if a party leader loses an election they lose their job. There's no ifs or buts about it, the electorate decides the fate of the politician charged with steering the direction of the party. Resigning as party leader in the aftermath of an election drubbing is the ultimate democratic sacrifice. The people speak and the politician listens.

In Ireland, our political leaders follow a different set of principles thanks to a benign belief in giving those who put their name forward a chance to prove their mettle, even if a significant number of voters have clearly shown they have no interest in being led by them.

If we were to apply the British standard to our own politicians, it would be very unlikely Micheál Martin would still be leader of Fianna Fáil - and Leo Varadkar would also be battling to hold on to his position in Fine Gael. Mary Lou McDonald would also have come under serious pressure following Sinn Féin's local election results last year.