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Who wants to put together a government in 2015/16? Harder than it was two weeks ago… October 29, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics, The Left.
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Adrian Kavanagh’s figures for the most recent polls make some reading. Let’s put aside all the stuff as to whether a 3% fall in support for SF indicates a ‘slump’, as the SBP puts it (whereas a 2% fall for FG doesn’t) – or the fact that while Adams has lost popularity he remains just 1% behind the most popular politician, and consider what his projections suggest. He notes that on the SBP/RedC figures:

Fine Gael 26% (down 2%), Sinn Fein 20% (down 3%), Fianna Fail 18% (NC), Labour Party 8% (NC), Independents, Green Party and Others 28% (up 5%).

From which he projects:

Fianna Fail 33, Fine Gael 48, Sinn Fein 29, Labour Party 7, Independents and Others 41.

The Sunday Times/Behaviour & Attitudes poll is remarkably similar.

Fine Gael 25% (up 1%), Sinn Fein 19% (NC), Fianna Fail 18% (NC), Labour Party 9% (down 5%), Green Party 3% (up 1%), Independents and Others 25% (up 3%).

From which he projects:

Fianna Fail 34, Fine Gael 48, Sinn Fein 28, Labour Party 8, Green Party 1, Independents and Others 39.)

I could easily be wrong, but it seems to me to be some time since we saw two polls by different companies so close to one another. What to make of it?

The all important figure is 80 for even a bare majority in the Dáil. And on this on the SBP and the ST figures suggest it can’t be done other than with FF and FG. Forget about SF and FF or SF/FF and LP. Doesn’t work (IEL has had some interesting points to make on whether there’s a hope that others will work with SF with Adams in the picture. Maybe, maybe not, a lot depends on how matters proceed in regard to the most recent controversy). A minority FG administration? Maybe but on 48 it would be rightly screwed. A corralling of some Independents/Others into government supporting alliance. Those of us with not terribly long memories will recall 2007 and one B. Ahern’s efforts in that direction with Finian McGrath amongst others. Let’s just say things didn’t end that well – perhaps if the boom hadn’t crashed they might have. Perhaps not. But in any event, not a happy precedent. External support from FF in the national interest? Perhaps. Perhaps not.

Other than that it’s back to the people time.

Thing is the rupture between said people and the larger political parties appears enormous. Note that in recent weeks support has gone towards Ind/Others, not FF. SF may, or may not – the figures are unclear – have suffered damage. But either way that rupture deepens. Of course we’ve months to go but nothing yet to suggest that there’s any real means of bridging the gap. I think FG and the LP may be resigning themselves to the thought that gratitude is unlikely to be forthcoming from citizens for their approach. Strange that – eh?

And what of that potential Dáil, if a minority government or an FG/FF administration took power with a large and fractious bunch of Ind/others looking on – and most likely SF there too. Who benefits in that scenario? Particularly, and this cannot be ruled out, the situation actually improves or they’re able – as they are already trying to do – to fudge water and other charges? Does it become a situation where 2015/16 is the one to go into government in order to cement power for a good two terms?

And what does that hold in regard to tempting the traditional parties to work together as never before?

Finally, as ever we see long established patterns of party support maintained. Labour at an abysmal vote share and projected number of TDs. What sort of LP would that be? How could it repurpose itself and in what context? A minor, very minor, party of government? But to what end? For Fianna Fáil a not entirely dissimilar range of questions, an improvement but not much of one all things considered. A smattering of urban TDs and some fresher faces, but still one big ‘B’ team all things considered politically. And how to position itself, slightly more left, further to the right? A government party, but in a minor key? That talk of two elections to true recovery ringing ever louder in their ears, but… problematically, no sign of any appetite on the electorate to give them much of anything that might indicate at that recovery.

And Sinn Féin, beset not by the direct issues relating to the conflict – armed struggle itself seemingly not as great a problem in retrospect as some might have imagined, but having to fend off all that went with it, the legacy of armed struggle and the structures and response that that engendered. There’s no doubting – and some of the more measured contributions to the discussion in the last week or two have made this point – that there’s a very certain sort of hypocrisy at work in this state in relation to the issue of sexual abuse and crimes, but there’s also no denying that the issues raised across that week or two in relation to the IRA has been deeply troubling for many. Politically it would seem the impact has been much lesser than might have been thought of.

And the Others/Independents, the last best hope of the Irish electorate – at least as a bloc – in these polls either the largest or equally largest bloc of support. Of course even to state it in those terms is to see the contradictions in operation here. There’s no cohesion, they are of left, centre and right. They are pretty much whatever the voter(s) want them to be. That is their greatest strength in the run-up to the GE. And it may well prove their greatest weakness subsequently if that government formation proves next to impossible.

Comments»

1. rockroots - October 29, 2014

Just on a tangent, I would fully expect Labour to be included in any future FG/FF arrangement – for one thing it would be important for the FG emphasis on continuity, there’s the matter of loyalty to solid allies (think Mary Harney’s continued role in government after the PD meltdown) and, most of all, both FG and FF would be very keen to have the fig-leaf (however flimsy) of ‘National Government’ to justify coalition and to have a buffer zone around the cabinet table. And it’s hard to imagine any surviving Labour TDs passing up the opportunity.

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Sense - October 29, 2014

I agree, Labour’s union bag men and women (i.e. SIPTU) would get into the bed with the devil or Hitler if they could claim to have ‘influence’ on a government.

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2. shea - October 29, 2014

would feel sorry for people who join political parties to get ahead in this climate. Who to choose. Is there the possibility of a place chaser gap forming in our political culture in the next few years, will this have consequences for the years ahead?

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3. oriain1 - October 29, 2014

Wish Adrian K would explain why his LP seat projections have been soooo… disproportionate to vote percentage. Even worse than FF in 2011 or FG in 2002.

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Liberius - October 30, 2014

He uses d’Hondt as the basis for the seat prediction, and it can be a little unfair to those with small percentages in constituencies with small magnitudes (the number of seats). Mind you, STV with small magnitude constituencies can be unfair if you’re transfer unfriendly, so Labour might want to be concerned about that.

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4. CL - October 30, 2014

F.G+F.F+Lab=52. Add in, say about 10 percentage pts. from ‘Others’, and there’s a conservative bloc above 60%. (Not to mention the doubts many have as to whether S.F. can be regarded as a left party). Its doubtful that the ruling oligarchy has yet begun to tremble.

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CMK - October 30, 2014

CL: I wouldn’t read that as a ‘conservative bloc’ necessarily. As you know from how Irish electoral politics are structured, and its roots in and reflection of, certain aspects of Irish society, parties like FG and FF will get substantial support because of long standing work done by their grassroots over the decades which is still being rewarded with votes. There are, I would argue, a very substantial number of voters who are inured to the economic woes since 2008 or, if affected by them, do still not allow their personal circumstances dictate how they vote. Also, FF and FG will also, like they have always done, be running GAA and sports figures to hoover up a certain percentage of the vote. I think the oligarchy will have cause to be worried, not by SF, post the next election. The long term trend is important, I would argue, not a snapshot in X or Y year. None of the mainstream parties can commit to any kind of policy platform that would improve the living standards of the majority of people in the state. All of these parties are committed, rather, to continued cuts to public services, stagnant or lowered wages and they are all agnostic or supportive of the EU attack on workers. None of which provides much of a basis for recovering ‘lost’ votes.

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5. Dr. X - October 30, 2014

“What sort of LP would that be? How could it repurpose itself and in what context? ”

I was going to write that it could revert to being what it was for a long time in the history of the state, a flag of convenience for what were, or would be, essentially independent candidates (didn’t Dick Spring’s da fit that description?).

But it will be perceived as so tainted soon that even that will not be possible.

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ThalmannBrigadier - October 30, 2014

At this stage the LP is like the Social Democratic Party in Portugal – an erroneous name.

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ThalmannBrigadier - October 30, 2014

*erroneously named party.

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