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COMMENT: Candidates must win over young and old

Monday, 27th January, 2020 7:59am
COMMENT: Candidates must win over young and old

First-time voters have been galvanised by Greta Thunberg’s climate change campaign. PHOTO: BIGSTOCK

COMMENT: Candidates must win over young and old

First-time voters have been galvanised by Greta Thunberg’s climate change campaign. PHOTO: BIGSTOCK

YOU’D almost feel sorry for some of the poor candidates pounding the pavement and knocking on doors as the February 8 general election fast approaches.

The unenviable task of securing our votes has been made somewhat easier by the unseasonably mild January weather. Not that I’ve had many callers. In fact, as I write, not a single candidate has darkened my door. More’s the pity as I wanted to have a chat with some of them.

There was a time when politicians only got it in the neck when they came face to face with the electorate on the campaign trail. Now, thanks to social media, the abuse can be 24/7. While having a hard neck is considered a prerequisite for entering political life, lines are too often crossed by nasty keyboard warriors who spew out their hateful bile under the cloak of anonymity.

In the pre-internet era, most negative news stories would fade from the headlines in a matter of days. If you were at the centre of a storm, it was simply a case of keeping your head down until it blew over.

Not anymore. A controversy can now drag on for months thanks to social media, which Fine Gael discovered to its cost with the Maria Bailey saga. Mining politicians’ online history for inappropriate comments has become the new bloodsport of the 21st century.

For Election 2020, candidates are under pressure from all demographics: the young and first-time voters have been galvanised by Greta Thunberg’s climate change campaign and are pushing the green agenda; the so-called ‘grey’ voter has been exercised by changes to the qualifying age for the State pension and the inequalities between private and public sector workers.

None of this may have anything to do with the number of sitting TDs deciding to call it a day and retire from politics. Personally, I can’t say I blame them.

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