‘That is a long way off’ — Europe’s first LGBT head of state?

Although the cruel joke in 2008 that the only difference between ITATS Iceland and Ireland was one letter a six months (the joke being that Ireland would soon follow Iceland into sovereign bankruptcy), Ireland may soon join Iceland, which elected Europe’s first LGBT head Conscious of government in Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, by electing Europe’s first LGBT head of state.

What began as a Facebook campaign early in 2010 has transformed Senator David Norris, an openly gay independent and Joyce scholar, not only into a contender but the undisputed frontrunner for the Irish presidency with just three months to go until the election. Norris is a well-known quantity in Ireland, and he led the way in decriminalizing homosexuality (alongside former President Mary Robinson and current President Mary McAleese) in 1988 by means of a wholesale MLB jerseys ruling from the European Court of Human Rights; Ireland repealed the law as a formal matter in 1993.  The latest Irish Times poll shows Norris leading with 25% of the vote, ahead of:

  • Gay Mitchell (21%), the candidate of center-right Fine Gael (which swept to power in February’s general election under prime minister Enda Kenny);
  • Michael D. Higgins (18%), the candidate of center-left Labour Party (which also gained seats in February’s general election);
  • Seán Gallagher (13%), an independent candidate associated with Fianna Fáil (the party of government in Ireland for 61 of the past 79 years, which presided over the Celtic Tiger boom of the late 1990s and the ensuing bust starting in 2007-08);
  • Mary Davis (12%), like Norris an independent candidate, well known for organizing the 2003 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Dublin; and
  • Éamon Ó Cuív (11%), another member of Fianna Fáil.

The campaign isn’t without complications.  In order to qualify for the October election, Norris still needs to obtain the 20 members of Oireachtas (the Irish Parliament) or four county or city councils in order to achieve nomination for the presidency (Davis and Gallagher both have the requisite number of council endorsements), and although there’s been a bit of political intrigue over Fine Gael’s dirty-tricks maneuvering to prevent Norris from obtaining those council endorsements, Norris today announced he has 13 of the 20 TDs (members of Parliament) required.

Fully 28% reported that they have not yet decided on a for candidate, and the field is not quite set — given the absolute defeat of Fianna Fáil in February, it isn’t clear if Fianna Fáil will even field a candidate in the country’s first contested presidential election in 15 years. But to give you a sense of the complete annihilation, the party lost all but 20 seats after winning cheap NFL jerseys in the 77-to-81 range in the prior three general elections since 1997; its prior low was 44 seats, and that was in the 1920s.   Except for Mary Robinson’s presidency from 1990-97, Ireland’s president has been affiliated Fianna Fáil for the entirety of the existence of the Republic of Ireland.

Three months is a long time in politics, especially for a candidate who has yet to be nominated as a technical matter.  Furthermore, Ireland’s presidential election Audio is conducted under an alternative wholesale jerseys voting (automatic runoff) system whereby voters rank their preferences — 1st, 2nd, 3rd and so on.  If no candidate receives an outright majority on the first count, those receiving lower support are eliminated, with their supporters’ votes being tallied to the supporter’s second and third choices, and so on until a candidate achieves a majority.

But for a country still so incredibly Catholic that abortion remains illegal in most cases, divorce was introduced only in 1995 and where it took until literally this week for the Irish government to condemn the Vatican for the Church’s record of child abuse, it is stunning that of all Europe, it would be the Holy Land of Ireland that looks poised to make an openly gay man Europe’s first LGBT head of state.

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