Michael D. Higgins is poised to serve another seven years as Irish president. That’s just fine. He has done a pretty good job in his first seven years.
There is only one problem and that’s the paucity of his mandate. Higgins was always a shoe-in for the second term and Irish voters knew it.
Rephrase that: Voters in the Republic of Ireland.
Most eligible voters, for one reason or another, didn’t cast ballots last Friday. If the result had been very close there would have been considerable frustration on the part of the runner-up and the also rans.
Thankfully, Higgins won by a very wide margin of those who did vote so his rivals can rest easy. They were all hammered by a popular figure. No shame in that.
Irish citizens living in Northern Ireland and overseas did not have a vote for a president who is not an executive first citizen, but rather a constitutional one.
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There has been a slow motion effort on the part of successive Irish governments to extend voting rights to the Irish in the North and overseas, albeit only in presidential contests.
If you thought there was a lack of enthusiasm in Dublin for actually doing this you would not be far off the mark.
Perhaps the best way to get people in Ireland to actually take the trouble to vote for their president is to have them thinking that all those Irish tainted by foreign ways and thinking might be hijacking a domestic election by, preserve and save us from all harm, casting ballots from Boston, London, Abu Dhabi or wherever.
Either way, it is to be hoped that the right to vote will have been expanded the next time some Ireland-based voters turn out to vote for a president, and most don’t.