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Joining a political party

Why? And which one is right for you?

Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in life

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If you’re interested in politics or activism, one way you can get more involved is by joining a political party. Ireland has a wide range of political parties that compete for power at local, national and European level. But what are the advantages of signing up with one? And how do you work out which might be right for you?

Why join a political party?

  • It’s a way of meeting people with similar beliefs to yourself.
  • You’ll be able to help candidates you agree with get elected.
  • You might be able to change the party’s policies on issues you care about.
  • You’ll be able to attend events and conferences the party runs.
  • You may be able to vote on who the party leader is, who the party’s local candidates should be, and whether the party should go into government after an election.

Which party is right for me?

First off, figure out what matters most to you. For instance, do you have one single issue that is more important to you than any other? Or are your politics based on a wider set of values you’d want your party to share? Whatever your answer, if you’re clear on why you want to be involved in politics it’ll be easier to find the party that suits you best.

No party will match 100% with your personal views, so it’s about finding one you agree with most and taking it from there. If you’re wondering whether to join a party, try the following to make sure they suit you:

  • See how the party describes themselves: are they left- or right-wing? Conservative or liberal?
  • Visit their website's policy sections to see what they have to say on the issues you care about
  • Follow them on social media and see what they choose to post about.
  • Read up on their history: how long have they been around, and what have they achieved so far?
  • Visit a few of their events and see if you like what you hear.

Questions to ask before signing up

  • How much does it cost to become a member?
  • Is there a cheaper rate for young people or students?
  • Is there a local branch in your area? If not, can you set one up?
  • Does the party have a youth section for younger members to get involved?
  • Does the party have other sections you might be interested in, i.e. a women’s or LGBTI+ section?
  • How long will you have to be a member before you can vote on the party’s policies, candidates and leadership?

What if I'm interested in politics but not any parties in Ireland?

Politics isn’t just about what happens within and between political parties, and there are lots of ways to be politically active without getting involved in the party system.

  • See if there are any independent, non-party politicians you’d like to support.
  • Get involved in a campaign on a specific issue: the campaigns on abortion rights, marriage equality and water charges were all successful political movements that influenced parties from the outside.
  • Start your own political movement: it’ll be hard, of course, but every party had to start somewhere.

Ireland’s political parties

If you’re interested in finding out more about some of Ireland’s main political parties, check out the information on their websites below:

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Published Feb­ru­ary 28th2013
Last updated Octo­ber 19th2018
Tags politics activism volunteer
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