Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Irish General Election 2007: Bertie Ahern and Jacques Chirac - Political Twins

Patrick Kielty interviews Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and British Prime Minister Tony Blair about the Northern Ireland peace process in the Terracota Room of No. 10 Downing Street on Tuesday, May 15, 2007, prior to Ahern's address to a joint session of the UK Parliament

In the 1992 US Presidential Election campaign, Republican Party strategists working for President George H. Bush, contacted the Conservative Party of then UK Prime Minister John Major to assist in digging up any potentially embarrassing material on Bill Clinton's period as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, while the latter availed of a US Army Vietnam War draft deferment.

Clinton was reported to have been annoyed about the incident and for a time, Major got a cold shoulder from the Clinton White House.

In the current Irish General Election campaign, the equivalent of a US campaign advertorial by Taoiseach Bertie Ahern's Fianna Fáil Party is being broadcast by RTE, the Irish State television service, which includes British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the former US President Bill Clinton and former US Senator George Mitchell, all praising Ahern's role in the Northern Ireland peace process.

According to Fianna Fáil, the international participants were advised that their contributions would be used in the campaign.

In March, Fianna Fáil criticised the German Chancellor Angela Merkel's endorsement of Enda Kenny, leader of the main Opposition Party Fine Gael. Merkel and Kenny are leaders of parties, in the same political grouping in the European Parliament.

The one former leader that FF should have recruited was ex-President Jacques Chirac of France who left office this morning. Chirac was a staunch defender of the CAP welfare system for farmers and his resistance to reform in this area surely benefited Ireland.

Chirac like Bertie Ahern have had successes in foreign affairs that are the main components of their legacies. Credit where it is due.

In domestic affairs, both promised much at the outset of their tenures but lacked courage to face down any significant vested interest. Sham benchmarking in Ireland and zero public sector reform has been matched in France by a political cowardice in addressing economic reform.

Vive le rosbif Bertie!

And some Fun : Bertie in the Dragons' Den