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The Irish political landscape. All changed…utterly…but oddly familiar. May 26, 2007

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Election 2007, Irish Politics.
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So, we’re almost at the end of the process. It looks as if Sinn Féin will take the final seat in Dublin South Central. Although, with this election who can tell? That’s a bittersweet moment because Aengus O’Snodaigh can only succeed by dashing Eric Byrne of Labour. Byrne is a phlegmatic guy, but really, it doesn’t seem entirely fair that he should be faced with this situation yet again (consider his track record over the past decade or two).

And this is so far from the dizzying castles in the sky that we were offered by these parties in the past months, and even years. Sinn Féin was generally acknowledged to be on course for 10 seats. The Greens for a similar number. Labour was expected to hold it’s own. All gone. Ciarán makes the reasonable point in response to the post below that the Greens, Sinn Féin and Labour have at least held their position. More or less would be the response. One seat down for Sinn Féin. One seat down for Labour. A loss for the Greens matched only by a win in Carl0w-Kilkenny.

It’s not exactly fantastic. Expectations met reality. Reality won.

And that’s not the totality of the left either. The Socialist Party was wounded grieviously with the loss of Joe Higgins from the Dáil and was unable to make a gain with Clare Daly. Catherine Murphy and Seamus Healy, both left Independents fell. Tony Gregory did well, but then he was always thought to hold his seat. Finian McGrath managed to somehow retain his seat in one of the most competitive constituencies in the country (Dublin North Central). So some small comfort there.

Other left candidates didn’t take off. Consider Joan Collins (first preference 2203, 4.6% in Dublin South Central), Brid Smith People Before Profit (2086/4.4%), Rory Hearne PBP (591/1.7%), look at John O’Neill of the ISN (first preference 505/1.6% in Dublin North West), granted Richard Boyd Barrett appeared to do well for PBP coming in at 5233/8.9% , and a little ahead of Ciarán Cuffe of the Green Party, but local issues assisted his campaign. A local election seat beckons?

There are more. But you get the picture.

The loss of other Independents – albeit Independents who would broadly be centrist – is not to be dismissed either. They provided an oppositional voice in the Dáil and whatever their individual politics by association with the issues that were dominated by the oppositional left they added some substance.
Where ever one stood on the left on May 24th I think it’s fair to suggest that the expectation was that there would be further progress, perhaps ten or more new ‘left’ seats under a number of labels. Didn’t happen.

Donagh at Dublin Opinion (and Conor in conversation) has noted how this reversal, and indeed the FF surge, has brought back memories of a previous period of Irish politics. Wednesday has a strong critique from an SF perspective (and splintered sunrise makes some interesting points about Ahern). This left, in all it’s formations has stalled. Stalled badly because the shift has been to the centre, centre-right. This is a problem.

It looks as if one element or other of the left will coalesce in coalition with FF in the next number of weeks. That too poses problems.

Worth returning to.

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Comments»

1. joemomma - May 26, 2007

From the left’s point of view, the biggest factor to consider from the election is that once again Fianna Fáil hoovered up working class votes everywhere.

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2. WorldbyStorm - May 26, 2007

Absolutely. And when the full returns are available it will be interesting to assess whether it was to a greater degree than in previous elections.

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3. Ciarán - May 26, 2007

A lot of people expected Labour to do poorly in this election, they’ve held steady. It must be much worse for the Greens and SF though, who were predicted to make great gains (maybe even doubling their seats) but didn’t come thorugh. Obviously of course it hasn’t been a great day for the electoral left, but both the Greens and Labour are being touted as potential coalition partners for FF.

There are questions for the left coming out of this beyond parliamentarianism. Where now for grassroots campaigns like Shell to Sea, Save Tara, pro-choice groups, the various local campaigns up and down the country, etc. etc.? What could the Greens or Labour possibly get out of FF in exchange for coalition (beyond ministries, naturally)?

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4. soubresauts - May 27, 2007

“It looks as if one element or other of the left will coalesce in coalition with FF in the next number of weeks. That too poses problems.”

Bloody right it poses problems!

Ciarán asked: “Where now for grassroots campaigns like Shell to Sea, Save Tara, pro-choice groups, the various local campaigns up and down the country, etc. etc.? What could the Greens or Labour possibly get out of FF in exchange for coalition (beyond ministries, naturally)?”

If the Greens go into government without getting FF’s assent to the following, they’ll lose their heart:
* An immediate end to corporate donations, US military use of Shannon, and water fluoridation
* Tara diversion
* Shell to Sea demands
* (Add your own sound demand to that list…)

Similarly, Labour are in danger of losing nearly everything if they don’t put reforms before ministries.

Why are Labour (and all lefties) not calling for a FF-FG coalition? Somebody has to start putting pressure on FF and FG.

Let Bertie cobble together his FF-PD-Ind coalition for a “stable” government. 2012 will then see a breakthrough, if not sooner. The country will be (even more) ruined by then, but it won’t be saved by a few Labour or Green ministries.

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5. WorldbyStorm - May 27, 2007

I tend to agree with you soubresauts that the left should be taking a more proactive position…

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