A “dictator” is a head of state who exercises arbitrary authority over the lives of his citizens and who cannot be removed from power through legal means. Kim Jong-Il of North Korea, Than Shew of Burma and Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe are all dictators. They rule not because they have the approval of their citizens but because they want to rule. Brian Cowen’s democratic credentials are becoming increasingly suspect in this regard. This is a worrying development because the Taoiseach should be committed to democracy by its definition and not just on his own terms.
Remember when he said: “As long as I am running this Government, I will run the Government as I see fit, as I believe it, based on my philosophy.” That image of him, angry, shouting, stabbing the air with his finger, is one that is hard to reconcile with the image of a committed democrat. It demonstrates how little respect he has for the very people who gave him his mandate to govern in the first place.
His unwillingness to address the issues of sleaze and corruption within his own party is equally as telling. Ivor Callely is still a member of the Fianna Fáil party and remains a Taoiseach’s nominee to Seanad Eireann. No action has been taken either by Cowen or the Fianna Fáil party. Likewise party members Willie O’Dea, John O Donoghue, Bertie Ahern and Beverly Cooper-Flynn all still serve in Government in spite of their unsavoury record in public service. Surely someone committed to ‘Government of the people, by the people and for the people’ would have no allegiance with people who debase the democratic or political process. Not in Cowen’s world. His philosophy seems to mirror that of a dictator in that he keeps the spoils of office for his inner cabal and to hell with everybody else.
A Fianna Fáil party led by Bertie Ahern was elected in coalition with the Greens in 2007. Bertie has since resigned in disgrace and Cowen was appointed not elected leader. He was never elected Taoiseach either by his own party or by the wider public. He was told in the 2009 local elections that the public do not want him running the country in no uncertain terms, and in every opinion poll since. He does not even enjoy the internal support of his own party. Yet he continues to insist that he will remain as Taoiseach and has a constitutional right to do so. He is hiding behind the constitution, as he does not have a moral or democratic right to remain on as Taoiseach without being ratified by the electorate.
Then there is the issue of refusing to hold the three by-elections. Surely the people in the affected constituencies deserve representation. Is it not their constitutional right? When questioned on RTE about the by-elections our beloved leader’ insulted us all with the dismissive and patronising throwaway comment “Don’t worry about the by-elections’. The truth is he is afraid of losing the by-elections and is willing to subvert the constitutional rights of the people in a nefarious bid to cling to power. The typical action of a dictator.
It would behove him well to remember that he inherited his political seat when he entered Dáil Eireann in a by-election. It would behove us well to remember that he was not elected Taoiseach nor was he elected leader of Fianna Fáil. The democratic process clearly does not hold sway with our beloved leader.
Cowen is avoiding holding the by-elections to ensure he holds onto power. It should not be up to the Taoiseach to decide when by-elections are held. It should be up to the people to decide, not a power hungry dictator whose only interest lies in clinging to power even though the vast majority of people want him to go. He is an affront to democracy. He is afraid to face the people. He is a coward!
Pearce Flannery, founder of acclaimed business advisors Pragmatica is widely regarded as Ireland's premier business consultant, business coach and motivational speaker. He is a board member of Autopolis, leading international automotive consultants. His blog www.grabbingtheoyster.com is hugely popular having a reputation for straight talking and innovative thinking on socio-economic and political matters.
Contact Pearce: [email protected].