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29th April 2019 | Environment, Local Government, Political Reform, Waste

Why some Green Party candidates are postering for the local and European elections

BACK

We know that people are fed up with election posters. A recent poll revealed 77% of people want to see them totally banned. They’re unsightly, wasteful, and can be dangerous to cyclists and pedestrians if hung incorrectly. As a voter with environmental concerns, you’re right to be wondering why you’re seeing Green Party posters during this election campaign. We are the party of the environment, after all, and we are strident campaigners against plastic waste.

We share your concerns about the wastefulness of posters, and that’s why in March of this year Senator Grace O’Sullivan put forward an amendment in the Seanad, seeking new regulations for election posters that would limit their use to dedicated European-style hoardings, with designated spaces for each candidate to declare their candidacy and set out their platform.

Under this system, paper posters would replace plastic, but voters (including those with no access to social media) could still see that elections were happening and learn about the candidates and parties on offer. Turnout wouldn’t be negatively affected, towns remain tidy, voters are informed, democracy is served!

Unfortunately, the amendment wasn’t successful. The lack of regulation around postering (no spending limits, no zone restrictions) continues to benefit bigger parties with more money to spend, thus helping to maintain a status quo where posters continue to go unregulated. We are the only party that has made any effort to change the current system, and we have committed in our Local Manifesto to continue working to achieve this.

In the meantime, our candidates are forced to compete in the current system. Some are reusing old posters, some aren’t using any, and some first-time candidates have opted for posters that can be reused in the future, or have already agreed to allow their posters to be reused in the community. All posters are paid for by candidates themselves, and it’s a big investment for them, but studies show that not postering puts candidates at a serious disadvantage. Academics like Dr Jane Suiter at DCU and Dr Theresa Reidy at UCC have concluded that election posters increase voter turnout, assist voters in their decision-making, and help people recognise who they’re voting for – which is especially important for first-time candidates.

We are running 79 passionate, hard-working candidates around the country, and they want to get elected. This is more than twice the number of Green Party candidates who ran in 2014, and many are running in constituencies that have never had a Green candidate before. Our candidates want to bring the Green agenda to local councils, and conventional wisdom says they need posters to help them do that. If environmentally conscious candidates were the only ones not to poster, they would be less likely to get elected.

More Greens on councils would mean greater regulation down the line, in a democratic way that does not disadvantage first-time candidates or smaller parties, or leave incumbents who enjoy better name recognition at a distinct advantage.

Our candidates are knocking on doors and doing everything they can to get elected, but without the addition of posters, it may not be enough. Once they are elected they can begin the work of making the longer term, systemic, and ultimately more impactful changes that will benefit the environment, and we hope you’d agree that the positive environmental impact of having a Green voice on the Council over 5 years will far outweigh the short-term impact of posters.

We understand this is a frustrating issue for many voters, and we share that frustration. We want to work to change that, but sometimes real system change can only happen from within.

If you want fewer posters in the future… Vote Green.

To see who’s running in your local area, click here.