Jaysus, isn’t the battle for lamppost supremacy truly raging throughout the country? I drove to Cork last week and nearly crashed the car several times, distracted as I was by the vistas of earnest-looking local election hopefuls, competing for attention with oncoming traffic. Talk about overkill. They’re starting to remind me of WANTED: DEAD OR ALIVE posters from the Wild West (apt, perhaps, considering how many people feel about our current Government).
Some parties and candidates are undoubtedly more convinced than others on the power of an election poster in raising a budding politician’s profile and securing votes. Sinn Fein would certainly seem to be gaining the numerical advantage in terms of the poles they’ve commandeered around the countryside. Money seems to be no object for the party, particularly in the campaign of pin-up girl Toireasa Ferris. Overall, the party has gone for the glossy, ‘magazine-type’ look for their extremely professional-looking posters which pedestrians and motorists simply can’t miss.
Fine Gael, too, have spent a few bob on eye-catching posters for their candidates, many of which feature idyllic blue skies (this is what we have to look forward to if we vote FG, presumably) and a group of sincere-looking people behind each candidate. I’ve heard some debate on whether the young Cummins lad (John, son of Senator Maurice) should have donned a tie for his photo-shoot. Personally I think the (most likely desired) approach of presenting him as a fresh-faced alternative could appeal to younger voters.
When it comes to some of the Fianna Fail candidates, you might find yourself straining your eyes to work out the name of the party (understandable, given the level of abuse I hear some of them are receiving on the doorsteps). My advice is not to bother trying to read that small print, unless you fancy careering through a roundabout instead of around it.
Given that they’re not able to fall back on to the financial support of a political party, it’s reasonable that the Independent candidates are not splashing out on an extensive postering campaign. I’ve noticed straight-talking Dick Roche in the City North Electoral Area taking a dig at some of the more elaborate posters of his competitor, with his ‘Plain Poster, Plain Speaker’ approach.
My heart is with Cllr Mary Roche, who has opted not to bother with posters at all. Certainly no shrinking violet when it comes to making her voice heard over the years, the no-nonsense City East candidate reckons posters aren’t popular with the public, many of whom see it as defacing public property. Besides, she has said, it’s an enormous undertaking which, in previous years, has fallen to her Dad (poor man).
Perhaps more candidates should take an ecologically-friendly leaf out of Roche’s book and bring comprehensive literature with them on the canvass, in the hope that it and their track record will see them through.
Election posters are by no means a worldwide phenomenon but we Irish (or at least our political hopefuls) can’t get enough of them. And this is despite the fact that voter turnout in local elections continues to decline across the country.
The last local election, held in 2004, saw what would be considered an average turnout in the city, with some 59.27% of Waterford’s voting public using their ballot paper. This percentage only accounts for registered voters, of which there were 30, 132. I’d love to know how much of an impact election posters had on these people.
For what it’s worth, I think some degree of postering is essential to build upon a candidate’s profile, particularly newcomers to the race. All in all, though, the proliferation of these posters is a traffic hazard, a littering of our lovely city and a temptation too great to resist for budding graffiti artists: so far this week, I’ve seen devil’s horns, Hitler moustaches and Elton John glasses defacing (or some might argue improving) the faces of our local candidates.
Incidentally, in their rush to the poles, many of the teams should take more care to adequately secure their posters, lest their candidates blow down and be accused of annoying people and getting under their feet. Now that would be awful.