Google lists what people have asked about the General Election so far

10 Feb 2016

With just over two weeks before Ireland’s General Election, Google has published a list of the most-searched questions regarding the major political parties, including, “Who is Enda Kenny?”

The date of 26 February is set for General Election 2016, making it one of the shortest campaigns in Irish political history, and yet, those online are not refraining from frantically looking up their local candidates and, in many cases, looking up major political parties, too.

To mark the first week since the election was called by An Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Google has released a rather comprehensive list of questions posed to the search engine, with some rather obvious ones off the bat, such as “When is the election in Ireland?” and “What constituency am I in?”

However, there also seems to be many out there who think Google can vote for them or that it offers time-machine capabilities with questions asked also including: “Who should I vote for?” and “Who will win the next Irish General Election?”

Google’s list of questions definitely doesn’t cover all the political parties out there – cries of favouritism can be heard throughout the message boards already – but focuses on Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, Labour, Sinn Féin and the Social Democrats.

Big data in action

Being honest, many of the questions regarding the parties are unlikely to cause much surprise, largely revolving around what they stand for or when they were established.

However, there’s no ignoring the wince-inducing top search for the Labour Party, so far, with its most-searched question being: “Is the Labour Party dead?” Ouch.

Also indicating how short some people’s memories are, one of the most-searched questions was: “Who was leader of the Labour Party before Joan Burton?”

She followed Eamon Gilmore into the top position in July 2014, for those wondering.

Meanwhile, the personal life of Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams appears to be of interest to voters, who are asking whether the man is married, as well as how old he is.

Head of Google Ireland, Ronan Harris, said he sees the exercise as an example of big data in action: “The amount of traffic a search term generates cannot be used to accurately gauge the true popularity of a candidate or political party, however, it is a useful way of measuring interest in them at any one time.”

Here are five of the most-unlikely search terms we could find in Google’s list.

  1. What did Sinn Fein call Micheál Martin in the Dáil?
  2. Why was Gerry Adams’ voice dubbed?
  3. Who is Enda Kenny?
  4. How many times has Fianna Fail bankrupted the country?
  5. What is the address of Jan O’Sullivan’s department?

Irish governmental buildings image via psyberartist/Flickr

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic