Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Votes for emigrants

I've always felt that citizens should be entitled to vote in their country's elections regardless of where they reside. The Irish political consensus has always been that there are too many emigrants and they would destabilize the political process here. Well, if thousands of your people are leaving due to a lack of work, perhaps your political process should be destablized.

When Mary Robinson was elected, I remember thinking how odd it was that none of the thousands of Irish living in NY, Boston or wherever were allowed to vote in that election for a predominantly ceremonial post. Yet, simultaneously, millions of Polish emigrants were lining up outside the Polish embassies and consular offices to cast their ballots for Lech Walesa at a time when Poland was still a communist state.

This week's Irish Echo had the details on the latest the efforts (or lack thereof) to allow emigrants votes in Seanad elections. More endless discussion about allowing citizens to vote in meaningless elections. In Mexico (a country with far more emigrants than Ireland) one state has moved to give emigrants real power.