When we examine the world around us and note the turbulent political landscape of the US, the UK, how elections often are fraught with major upsets, Ireland has rarely had such upsets.
After all, the elected government of Ireland has since the foundation of the state ping-ponged between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, two centre-right parties split along Civil War lines with not much in the difference between them. Meanwhile, left-wing parties such as Sinn Féin, Labour, the Social Democrats and Solidarity-People Before Profit have largely been kept as junior partners in government.
Every media outlet covering the @TheISFParty-
"ISF Party. Your campaign seems to have the momentum of a runaway freight train. Why are you so popular?"
— 𝙋𝙚𝙩𝙚 𝙎𝙡𝙖𝙩𝙩𝙚𝙧𝙮 ✊ (@PeteSlatteryIE) September 20, 2019
Newer parties have had varying degrees of success - Social Democrats claimed two seats in the Dáil in the last election, whereas far-right Renua Ireland were rejected entirely - but it hasn't stopped a new party from forming.
The difference here is that this new political party formed on the Irish Facebook group, Ireland Simpsons Fans. The ISF Party, which we've been assured multiple times is actually real, is planning to field candidates in the upcoming 2020 General Election.
POLICY: WHY CAN'T I HAVE 32 COUNTIES AND 32 MONEY?
Let us celebrate Ireland by the addition of 6 to 26 🥰 pic.twitter.com/8nLKrHNdJB
— The ISF Party (@TheISFParty) September 20, 2019
In the space of a day, the ISF Party's Twitter account has garnered 10,000 followers - over 4,000 more than Renua Ireland - and has drawn attention with its cromulent political views.
We spoke to Mike Finnerty, one of the party's organisers, and began by asking the question everyone is thinking - is this a joke?
"Yes, we are serious," Finnerty says. "We really do feel there is room for a party on the Irish Left that is tolerant, open, progressive, not afraid of anything, unapologetic, and want to fight for social justice."
The Ireland Simpsons Fans Party has a better policy on transphobia than the SNP https://t.co/A4LKk4Ulkt
— Lily Baker 🎃 (@lilybakeruk) September 19, 2019
Seeing as the majority of Ireland Simpsons Fan posts seem to espouse a left-leaning, progressive viewpoint, does the ISF Party represent these views? By Mike's reckoning, "a political party that would have spawned out of ISF was always going to be that."
The intriguing part, however, is that it looks as though fielding candidates in the General Election may actually happen. "That's the dream, and who knows, maybe we will actually go all the way," Mike enthuses.
"For now," he says, "we're building our base, laying out the issues we stand for such as pro-immigration, feminism, transgender rights, economic equality and just generally make Ireland a more tolerant, open place."
"When election season rolls around, we'll be ready. The majority of our members are Dublin-based, so it's a no-brainer to run someone there, and wherever we have high concentration of members."
Established politicians, such as Noel Rock TD of Fine Gael follows the ISF Party on Twitter, as does Cllr. Hazel Chu of the Green Party.
Life footage from a meeting earlier today. pic.twitter.com/DxO2I6fXOD
— Noel Rock (@NoelRock) September 19, 2019
While people may scoff at the idea of a real political force forming out of a Facebook group dedicated to memes from a TV show that's long since passed its prime, Finnerty points to the electoral success of Volodymyr Zelensky, a former comedian who's now the Prime Minister of Ukraine, and Boris Johnson.
Intriguingly, when asked which Simpsons character they identify with the most, Lisa Simpson was further down the list than expected. According to Finnerty, the party falls somewhere between " the treat your workers/constituents attitude of Hank Scorpio", "the progressive and tolerant nature of Lisa Simpson", "the fighting spirit of Mona Simpson", and "just the general vibe of "Do What You Feel Day" except it won't descend into a riot inspired by James Brown and Albert Brooks."
It's hard to know precisely how the ISF Party will fare, but given the swell of support it's received online in less than a day, there appears to be an appetite for it. Given how the established political parties have largely failed to make any in roads with the youth vote, could the ISF Party take off to Dáil Eireann with the momentum of a runaway freight train?
Only time will tell.