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Six months to go to the Election, give or take, and I don’t have a clue what’s going to happen… November 19, 2006

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Election 2007, Irish Politics.
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Just thinking, the General Election will be upon us pretty much within six months or so.

As it stands the polls indicate that Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats appear to have picked up steam, but remain lower than their position at the last election.

Fine Gael and Labour have suffered a decline in their overall share of the potential vote.

The Greens have improved by a couple of percentage points and Sinn Féin remains on or around the 10% mark.

So what is going to happen next? I can’t work it out. There doesn’t appear to be sufficient support for Fianna Fáil and the PDs to return in coalition. Fine Gael and Labour, even if one factors in the Greens, appear to fall considerably short of the numbers suitable for a coalition.

There is renewed muttering about the Greens being split between those willing to do a deal with FF, and those who aren’t. The same is no doubt true of SF, although it would be interesting to hear some voices clarify that.

And that leaves us with what? A situation where everyone bar Fine Gael and Labour, are hedging their bets. I’d love to say it’s all to play for, but it doesn’t appear to be. One might propose that Fianna Fáil are probably going to be a component of any future government after the next election. But even that doesn’t seem absolutely assured.

In some respects it is as if the traditional and historical legitimacy of the ‘traditional’ parties of government is slowly ebbing away and being ceded to the non-mainstream parties of left and centre left and to the Independents (a fascinating topic of it’s own which I intend to return to soon). That the alternative put up by these ‘traditional’ parties has been discarded by the electorate as insufficient. But the somewhat nebulous nature of the alternative parties, in the sense that they offer no single coherent opposition that is willing or able to take power, makes me wonder if this ebbing is entirely serious on the part of the public. It’s as if they ‘know’ that at the end of the day the main formation, FF will probably step in and work with whoever it has to to ensure stable rule. And so it doesn’t even follow the old rather naive dream of Labour and other parts of the left about an eventual coalition between FF/FG which would finally result in a ‘true’ left/right split, a split the Irish electorate has never seemingly wanted hitherto, comfortable in it’s midly social democratic, mildly centre right polity. No, this is more like an exaggeration of the latter idea where the electorate talks alternative and left, but really is as comfortable as any electorate can be with the present incumbents, particularly the larger party of government.

A remarkable situation which ever way one looks at it.

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