And after the next election? October 24, 2012Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, The Left.
Okay, reading Adrian Kavanagh’s analysis of the IT/Ipsos MRBI poll conducted last week one glaring point becomes obvious. Here’s the details of the poll again and his extrapolation of seat numbers:
Fine Gael 31% (down 1%), Labour 12% (up 2%), Fianna Fail 21% (up 4%), Sinn Fein 20% (down 4%), Green Party 2% (NC), Independents and Others 14% (down 1%). My constituency-level analysis of these poll figures estimates that party seat levels, should such national support trends be replicated in an actual general election, would be as follows: Fine Gael 63, Labour 17, Fianna Fail 37, Sinn Fein 25, Green Party 0, Independents and Others 16.
All very interesting, no? What appears to be the case is that there is a switch between the smaller parties (including FF) from the current dispensation in the Dáil.
Currently Fine Gael has 74 seats, the LP has 34, FF has 19, SF has 14 and Independents and Others have 19 with 1 over the Ceann Comhairle and five apostate TDs from the LP and FG.
Granted in Kavanagh’s projection FG would go down, Independents and others would drop too by 3 seats (and interesting to contemplate which they would be), but FF jumps into the current LP position, while SF switches with FF as is now and the LP is forced back into fourth place (a position it has not been in since the 1980s) and assumes the SF position. In other words in general terms the action, such as it is, is on the opposition and LP side of the house while FG remains well ahead, albeit still unable to govern on its own.
In a 158 TD Dáil that would require a party or coalition to exceed 79 TDs. As can be seen FG and the LP would have just one vote sufficient to do so at 80. Makes one wonder whether there is some wailing and gnashing of teeth now that the idea of the 158 Dáil is so firmly embedded given that perhaps a larger number of TDs in the Dáíl would produce a larger comfort zone for the parties.
Now of course all this comes replete with caveats. There will not be an election tomorrow, and even if there were it wouldn’t produce the result this poll did – or at least the chances of that would be vanishingly small. Yet, who would argue too strenuously that FG or the LPs position will be much improved on these figures in the aftermath of no growth, unemployment static or rising, a mortgage crisis that is increasing, three deflationary Budgets yet to come and so on and so forth. In other words the means of FG cobbling together a coalition, even if it retains this level of support in the poll becomes more tricky.
It is feasible, I think, that some TDs, even some leftish TDs – with the emphasis on ‘ish’, might be persuaded to work with an FG/LP coalition much as we saw the same dynamic in the 2007 government onwards. And chances are there might be at least two rightist TDs who would do likewise, though that might cause problems for the LP (though I can’t see them walking in that circumstance given they haven’t in the current one).
But what if the LP did the right thing and declined the invitation to continue in government with FG?
Well, granted Fine Gael could call on the services of SF, but that’s highly unlikely to occur and I suspect that in such a situation we would see FF step into the breach with confidence and supply measures. Or alternatively it could call on Fianna Fáil. But, oddly would FG be willing to work that directly with them? Again, a more likely outcome is a confidence and supply arrangement. But the problem there is that such a government would be intrinsically unstable. A party like FF even now must consider both its left and right flank and the pressures of supporting an FG administration (an FG one!) would introduce some pretty remarkable stresses.
One could easily envisage such a government lasting a fairly short period of time – the FF/GP administration went well over a year earlier than its possible timespan. And afterwards? Where would the chips fall? Would votes stream left or right? Towards novelty or stability? Given the temper of the Irish people in this state across the past five years I’d almost bet that it would be the latter, which suggests poor pickings for the left subsequently. And yet if it was problematic for the remnants of the LP – beaten sub-20, and who knows where SF would be in such a context, other parts of the left (however widely defined) might not do too badly in the longer run.
Kavanagh’s individual constituency projections are useful in that respect. Dublin Bay North he sees an SF candidate take a seat (Larry O’Toole’s day comes – and well deserved if it does given the work he and SF have put in there) as well as an FFer. Dublin Central returns LP/SF/Other. Dun Laoghaire, no RBB. Clare Daly looks safe enough on these figures. Joan Collins likewise. Wallace would look safe. So would Halligan. Murphy likewise. Ross and Donnelly also appeared safe enough. And Tipperary? Both the WUAG and Lowry come in.
All projections of course, and individual contests can be blown one way or another by circumstance and environment.
By the way, note both the Green Party and Independents figures overall. The former are nowhere, the latter – given a reduced Dáil, hold up remarkably well. I’m not saying it is definite that they’ll return in such numbers, but given the fragmentation of the party system that has occurred in the past five years they clearly remain a viable destination for votes and voters.