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Bizarre…time for a better media? A better politics? A better left? May 25, 2007

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Election 2007, Irish Politics.
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It’s early days. But in some respects this is very strange.  I’ve been listening to the radio for three or four hours now and it’s fascinating, in a sort of slow motion disaster way. It seems that Fianna Fáil are increasing their seats. How on earth can this happen?

I’ve criticised the spinning on the internet over the past but it’s not just the internet, it’s been the media, it’s been the opposition. Ridiculous and arrogant boosterism, cant about the inadequacy of the Irish people and their political choices (a big hi to the former residents of D’Olier Street). “Experts” rolled on to talk absolute nonsense.

And the reality…

Labour dipping. The Greens appear in some trouble. Sinn Féin are making no gains, may even lose a seat or two. The Independents are in dire straits.

I thought, and I articulated this before, that Fianna Fáil might be waiting in the long grass. But it’s not just FF, it’s Fine Gael as well.  The big battallions are way ahead.

People are talking now about an overall majority for FF. Can this be possible?

Has the opposition deluded itself for two years now? Or has it been ambushed by the voters?

Either way, those of us on the left can take no comfort from this. The project, in its broadest sense, is in retreat. The pieces are going to have to be picked up and reworked. Some hard thinking is going to have to be done here.

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Comments»

1. Ed Hayes - May 25, 2007

The initial response is likely to be ‘the people have spoken…the bastards.’ A good line but wrong I fear. The likely outcome will be blaming the Irish electorate for being lovers of corrupt gombeens. I can see the staff of the Irish Times shaking their heads now while Bruce Arnold and Conor Cruise pontificate on the inscrubility of Paddy. I don’t know why at least some of the anger and resentment that exists towards ‘the establishment’ wasn’t translated into more votes for the left (incl Greens, SF, Independents), except that is it possible that Fianna Fail are able to still, after 60 years or so in power and numerous embarrassments still able to present themselves as an anti-establishment party, at least to some people? If you want to tell the snobs to f…off vote FF? I work in a 3rd level institution and I don’t know one member of staff who votes FF which means that my workmates are wildly unrepresentative of the state as a whole.
BTW watch Eoghan Harris claim credit for this one!

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2. WorldbyStorm - May 25, 2007

You’re dead right Ed. And I think the blame doesn’t lie with the people, but with the opposition.

I’m also work part time in a 3rd level institution and would mirror what you say completely.

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3. Pavement Trauma - May 25, 2007

Lads, I’m working in a bank and I’ve heard nobody here say they were voting for FF but lots of ‘get the bastards out’.

FF voters are either highly secretive or congenital liars.

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4. Donagh - May 25, 2007

It seems to be that local issues that have counted for more this time – and a bit of ‘things are going grand, more of the same please’. When listening to the radio just after lunch the pundits were claiming that FF were going to maintain their 2002 wins, with the loss of maybe two seats – Professor of Politics in TCD said about 79 seats, but with margin error you can bring that up to 81.

Perhaps its an age demographic as those who are older tend to vote whereas younger types simply don’t. I work in a technology company in south Dublin, and it was the same here. Not a FF voter in sight. With one exception. A woman in her mid fifties said she was politically agnostic up until Bertiegate. Then she made up her mind. She was definitely voting FF. I was shocked and I presumed she was the exception.

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5. WorldbyStorm - May 25, 2007

And yet the percentage voting is up, isn’t it?

Gah, I don’t know. I didn’t expect the long grass to be filled to overflowing with FF voters.

Now I hate to point fingers, but…isn’t it true that to some degree Labour was mortgaged for Fine Gael?

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6. ejh - May 25, 2007

Not a FF voter in sight.

Isn’t the question not so much whether people were going to vote for FF, but who, if they weren’t, they were going to vote for instead?

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7. Ed Hayes - May 25, 2007

Depending on how the results go it will be interesting to see how Labour, SF, and the smaller left groups deal with the outcome. Should Labour go it alone at all costs? Will ‘old’ labour question the strategy associated in the public mind at least with the ex-DL element? SF might have to realise that they are just a small left nationalist party and not a momentus national movement and that the north’s allure is not the winner they thought it was. The far left I suppose will always be happy with any vote as long as its not total humiliation ie. Joe losing his seat. So many presumptions and I still don’t know if anyone has actually been elected!

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8. alastair - May 25, 2007

FF benefit from being a bland and safe centerist bet, with a personable figurehead, and a handy whipping boy in the shape of the PD’s (or McDowell specifically). FG didn’t really offer much more than changing the faces offering similar policies, and Labour damaged themselves by aligning themselves with, once again, similar (and therefore unappealing, in terms of change) policies.

In the absense of an obvious ‘big issue’ election, FF were bound to do okay. The churn has hurt the PD’s and, to a certain extent, Labour. Maybe ten years is a long time without change, but without a fresh meaningful alternative, why bother? The electorate have punished the PD’s and Labour for their respective sins, and the media have been responsible for hyping up the chances of the shinners and greens. It ‘seemed’ to make sense, but in reality the electorate weren’t interested.

The weather might have played a role too. A nice day drew out a respectable turnout, and with it the less ideologically aligned voter – a shift to the centre, and for the status quo.

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9. WorldbyStorm - May 26, 2007

All very true… the left though has been eviscerated for the next couple of years.

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10. Ciarán - May 26, 2007

FF have been able to argue that they have been in government during probably the best economic period in the history of the state. It’s obviously unsustainable in the long-run though, so the next few years will be interesting.

But the left in general needs to ask itself some questions. Can the squeeze of the smaller, mostly leftish, parties be blamed solely on the two-horse-race way in which the media and many pundits approached the election? There may be some truth there, but the amount of votes going to both FF and FG has to be a cause for worry. If there’s one bit of good news, though, it’s that the Greens, Labour and SF have held more-or-less steady whereas the PDs have been all but annihilated.

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11. Craig - May 26, 2007

“FF voters are either highly secretive or congenital liars.”
“I can see the staff of the Irish Times shaking their heads now while Bruce Arnold and Conor Cruise pontificate on the inscrubility of Paddy. ”

It’s exactly those kinds of attitudes and reactions that allow Fianna Fail to do so well.

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12. joemomma - May 26, 2007

“It seems to be that local issues that have counted for more this time – and a bit of ‘things are going grand, more of the same please’. “

Local issues always count, but I don’t they played a bigger than usual role in this election result. For example, the voters in Dublin South East are exercised over the proposed incinerator in Ringsend, but they have given an increased mandate to Dick Roche’s party, thus scuppering their best chance of stopping the project. Fianna Fáil, having been in power for 10 continuous years, find themselves on the wrong side of most big local issues, and yet have held their own.

Your latter point – more of the same – is more like it.

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13. WorldbyStorm - May 26, 2007

Or – as someone pointed out – hospital candidates brought down by FF.

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