Brian Cowen’s astonishing statistics

For anyone who doesn’t follow Irish politics, our Taoiseach (prime minister) Bertie Ahern last week resigned/was forced from office as a result of a litany of accusations of financial irregularities in the past. He’s being investigated by a tribunal for suspicion of taking bribes in the distant past and has spun a most unlikely web of explanations which have made less and less sense in recent months.

(Most notably, this politician held the office of minister for finance for several years, during which time he claims not to have operated a bank account. He took his wage cheques and cashed them. Seriously, this was in the 1990s, not the 1950s.)

Anyway, the king is dead, long live the king. Ahern’s replacement Brian Cowan has just been elected leader of the dominant political party in Ireland, Fianna Fail, and in four weeks time will be sworn in as the new Taoiseach.

Much as I detest Fianna Fail and the anti-liberal-cute-hoor-anything-is-okay-as-long-as-you-get-away-it mentality that goes with it, I think Cowen will probably be an improvement in the short term.

However, it remains a fact that in the last general election in Ireland held in 2007, Brian Cowen was elected to his seat in the Dail (house of parliament) with 19,000 votes.

That means that this guy is now the leader of a country with a population of over 4.5 million people, as a result of just 19,000 votes. If my maths is correct, that means he was voted for by around .41 per cent, or less than half of one percent, of the population. Is that correct? If anyone thinks I’ve miscalculated, let me know.

Otherwise, I’m astonished.