Friday June 5 has finally been declared as the date for the 2009 European and Local Elections - that’s just 114 days for voters to decide whether they will ‘kick ‘em out or keep ‘em in’.
Polling will be from 7am to 10pm and Galway will have a chance to cast its verdict on the city and county councillors as well as the MEPs.
The country is in a severe recession, unemployment is rising, and Taoiseach Brian Cowen has yet to demonstrate he can handle this crisis. While this is only a local election, the extraordinary circumstances are an opportunity for voters to send a message of some kind to the political parties.
However, the local element is important as how Galway faces up to a now uncertain future will also focus voters’ minds. Can a council be assembled that will be able to meet the challenges head on with constructive argument and debate, fresh ideas and perspectives? Or will it descend into a motley crew of bickering, grandstanding, petty sniping, and wind-baggery?
With this in mind, perhaps it’s time to take inspiration from a group of sixties radicals.
In 2006 I had the great pleasure of interviewing Wayne Kramer, the guitarist with the 1960s Detroit proto-punk/metal band The MC5. The band’s most famous album Kick Out The Jams (1969 ) achieved notoriety with its “Kick out the jams, motherf*****s!!!” call to arms.
When asked about the origin of the phrase, Kramer explained to me: “It came from having to endure other bands who we felt were not giving it their all. We’d be watching them in the audience and we’d shout ‘Kick out the jams or get off the stage!’ It became a metaphor for our frustration.”
So when voters approach the polling booth they should look at the faces on the ballot paper - of both the sitting councillors and those who aspire to be - in front of them and think ‘Kick out the jams or get off the stage!’.
Those not “giving it their all” or (in terms of the unelected ) who don’t look as if they can, should be made “get off the stage” to retain/clear the way for those who do/can ‘kick out the jams’. Galway did it in 2004 with unmerciful relish. It may be time to do it again.
However you can only have your say if you are registered to vote. People may apply for entry in the supplement to the register of electors. To be included, voters must be 18 or over, be ordinarily resident at the address at which they wish to be registered and not already registered as an elector at any other address. Irish citizenship is not a requirement for voting at a local elections. Any EU citizen is entitled to vote in the European elections.
Application for entry in the supplement should be made to the Galway County Council or City Council for the area where the applicant is resident. The closing date is Monday May 18. Applications forms can be obtained from the relevant council or can be downloaded from www.checktheregister.ie Forms must be witnessed by a member of An Garda Síochana.