The Irish EU Presidency and after… January 31, 2013Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics, The Left.
Wow. Reading Backroom in the Sunday Business Post this weekend was refreshing. No ifs and buts there, well not many. For Backroom the situation was worse and disimproving.
So s/he could in the course of a rather euro-sceptic piece note that in the context of the EU Presidency and Ireland:
It would be easy for our politicians – as they swan around Europe dealing with the political problems of a continent and enjoy five-star meals in five-star hotels on our behalf and at our expense – to become distracted from the mundane and grinding work of everyday retail politics back home.
What’s not to like for busy politicians in being cocooned in a secure space permeated by the compliance of civil servants and the flattery of fellow politicians? For everyone, the sojourn in Brussels offers a breather, far from the madding crowds of domestic political pressures.
And it’s true. Anyone who has observed the short space between the Merrion Hotel and Government buildings, and the journeys that EU reps and others make between those two points, will recognise the sheer detachment from the everyday that those represent. Indeed to live a life where that typifies ones interactions is to live a life starkly at odds with the reality for most citizens in any European state. That, as the SBP, notes it is all being paid for by ourselves is but a minor and somewhat ironic detail. But it’s one that is far too often forgotten.
I have to admit that the scenes from Davos this last week raise my hackles, as does the sight of government cars rushing through traffic, though it seems to me there’s somewhat less of that these days than there used to be – no doubt to salve the anger of the populace.
One can only imagine the sense of entitlement that that breeds. Not good. Not good at all. The following is on the money.
But back home, life goes on. Back home, the economy is still flat-lining and mortgage arrears continue to worsen. Sure, economic activity appears to have stabilised and may even be lifting. But the emphasis is on the word “may”. Back home are thorny political issues, such as legislating for medical abortion.
And back home is where the voters live.
They do indeed.
And there are ramifications from all this:
Recent opinion polls would suggest that the government parties have already lost one quarter of their support at the last general election. If political support continues to haemorrhage at that rate, the government parties could lose half of their support come the next general election.
That could cost Fine Gael and Labour 50 seats or more. Only a sustained economic recovery and a generous EU deal on our debts can save the government from this fate. But the prospect of each is quite uncertain.
As has been noted here before, there’s no guarantee even were those latter phenomena indicating recovery, of sorts, to manifest themselves that there would be a correlation with government polling figures. And as the news at the weekend suggests there’s less likelihood of that ‘generous EU deal’ now than there was when Backroom wrote the piece.
Backroom suggests that the Presidency may represent an high-water mark of sorts, after which the government will own what happens from here on out, whereas before it was still coasting on its initial popularity. Perhaps, but I think that the government began to lose that quite some while back, and it is the last eight months that were the transitional period from one state to another.
Moreover it is notable that Backroom doesn’t offer the government any advice as how to proceed. That may be sensible. It could well be that there is no advice that can help at this stage.