Pat Cox and the presidential election
Though it might seem the sort of subject I would love to write on and analyse from different directions, I have avoided from the start commentary here on the presidential election. Given my position in Young Fine Gael, any comments on candidates outside the party might be viewed somewhat cynically, and as I did not believe that the contest within the party for the nomination was one which would be won in the blogosphere, it was something I delayed posting here till now.
Having said that much, I do hope Pat Cox secures our party’s nomination, which I’ve made no secret of in comments on Twitter and Facebook. It will surprise few given our common background in the Progressive Democrats, though he left the party in 1994. That is more an indication of a common core set of beliefs. As someone who secured the position of President of the European Parliament in 2002, and without the support of a domestic party, I think he has shown an ability to compete in Europe. It also is important to me that he secured the position because of his leadership of the European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party, the group of modern European liberals. As a general rule, I would be inclined towards ELDR member parties, with clear exceptions such as responsibility for a country’s economic collapse in Fianna Fáil’s case, or tolerance for extremism in the Dutch VVD’s case.
While I understand the frustration that the party would consider an outsider, the presidency is not quite like other political offices determined through the party system, parties have recently at times selected candidates not then an active members or office-holders, but one who represents a particular vision or message a party wishes to promote, as was the case in different ways with Mary Robinson and Mary McAleese.
Of course the other two candidates are current MEPs, so I would not at all understate their experience on the world stage. But even in that context, I believe Pat Cox’s own knowledge and experience are particularly to his credit, and that his candidacy and presidency would promote the idea of modern Ireland competing confidently in the wider world.
I remain quite realistic about his chances, and his chances and those of the other two candidates are not something I believe worth getting into too much this close to the actual result. As a final note of disclosure, my support for him is all the stronger as he is someone I know personally, having worked with him in Ireland for Europe. Therefore, it is really at this personal level, as much as politically, that I wish the very best of luck in tomorrow’s convention.