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A former Minister writes a sensible piece on government formation… March 15, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Michael McDowell writes basic good sense in the SBP this weekend on foot of the latest poll. He notes that FF should think again if it is resolved to force another election. For the poll suggests a ‘clear majority of voters want a stable inter-party government to take office’. Only a fifth want a minority government – slightly less than as he describes them ’those masochist voters who just want a re-run of the election’.

Worse again only a small minority of FF supporters want a re-run. And a reverse Tallaght Strategy – not popular either.

McDowell argues that a ‘snap re-run of the election would probably produce a similar result.’ Crucially he notes something of a flaw that I think sits at the heart of some FF analyses…

Even if support for Inds would fall in that scenario (which is by no means clear), a re-run would most likely not produce a radically different set of post-election choices for FF. They could conceivably come back with fewer seats and a weaker bargaining position than they have at present.

And he suggests something else…

The electorate would punish very severely any party which they see as causing another general election for narrow party advantage.

Is that reality going to sink in with FF supporters and members and so on? Perhaps the SBP poll itself will give pause for thought.

He makes a further interesting point… both FF and FG ‘sought notes on the basis of being realistic parties of government: neither of them sought votes on the basis of staying in opposition’. So logically if the public now wants them to work together so they must.

I think what he says is persuasive. The real question is whether those who need to take account of it are in any position to do so.

Comments»

1. irishelectionliterature - March 15, 2016

Over the past few days in a post election leaflet sweep I’ve been talking to a number of people from different parts of the country of different political persuasions and none.
Naturally the election and Government formation has been the main topic. It appears that there is a softening on some parts of FF on coalition. One FF Councillor told me that really he couldn’t see any other option but an FF/FG coalition and it was something he didn’t have a problem with … but that he could see no way that the party membership could be persuaded. Brendan Smith was quoted as saying the country needs a stable Government and not another election. Which I presume can only mean an FF/FG coalition. So there must be elements within the Parliamentary party and elsewhere in favour of it. There are probably plenty of new FF TD’s there that would be quite averse to another election.
The Fine Gael people, whilst lukewarm about a coalition with FF didn’t really see any other option…. That said Simon Coveney on the radio this morning said that Fianna Fáil have no interest in coalition with Fine Gael and have spurned any contacts.
One of the more intriguing suggestions came from someone who was amazed that Sinn Fein strategists hadn’t yet pushed FF further into a hole by offering to try and form a government with Fianna Fail and some Independents and in effect call FF’s bluff.
I suspect the FF membership would at least countenance going in with SF, where a good number of their TD’s would be horrified at the prospect.
If they reject both FG and SF then who can they form a government with?
Despite their success, FF really are in a bit of a bind.

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2. Roger Cole - March 15, 2016

Anybody who thinks a FF/FG Coalition would be a good idea as advocated by McDowell should remember he was a founder of the PD’s, one of the most right wing parties ever in Irish history. PANA had a meeting with its founder, O’Malley and he told us, and meant it, that Irish people should be prepared to die for the UK and its North Sea oil.

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WorldbyStorm - March 15, 2016

Its certainly not intended to be an endorsement of either an FF/FG coalition or McDowells political views, simply a brief analysisof his logic – a logic positioned within the orthodoxy – which on its own terms and in its own lights is coherent. No one here thinks an FF/FG coalition is a good thing as such but it is entertaining and educative to see thosev parties wriggling away from that logic.

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Alibaba - March 15, 2016

A coalition of the two most powerful and conservative parties in the Dáil would be a disaster for ordinary people. I see Gerry Adams has called for Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil to ‘End the sham fight’ and come together. Another ‘sensible piece’, I think not.

http://www.thejournal.ie/sinn-fein-fianna-fail-fine-gael-2660602-Mar2016/

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CMK - March 15, 2016

What does that mean, though? Would it be a bigger disaster for working people than the FG/LP coalition? Also, given the income distribution statistics here we can be certain that hundreds of thousands of working people voted for one or other of these parties. A FF/FG government would, however, be a disaster for the unions and ‘civil society’ as it would expose the function of the upper echelons of both as stabilisers for austerity. A hard Right coalition could well be a galvanising force and push more working people into activism and resistance. That would only be a good thing, I think.

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WorldbyStorm - March 15, 2016

I think it would probably be worse than FG/LP. And by quite some way. A similar discussion was had on how the Tories alone were much worse than Tory/LD, and however much I hate the LDs it’s true, they are. And I think that the impacts on working people would be genuinely awful. And while it is possible that activism and resistance would increase it could only be at a massive cost of the immiseration of more working people.

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Alibaba - March 15, 2016

I very much agree with the thoughts contained in your last two sentences, WbS.

I like the suggestion that that a ‘Right coalition could well be a galvanising force and push more working people into activism and resistance’. But that depends on who and how they take up the reins of fightback. I have a sneaking suspicion that it may not be as straightforward as some might think.

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CMK - March 15, 2016

A substantial portion of FF’s support came from that segment of the electorate who are not sympathetic to the further Left but who, nonetheless, would like a ‘fairer society’. Possibly voted for the LP in 2011. A FF cheering on the worst elements of FG for five years would set FF back to 2011. FF only have a future by tacking Left and playing the ‘social justice’ card, which will involve lots of referring to house building from the 1930s to 1980s, for example. For FF, however, and their upper echelons know this: the resources under the European fiscal rules, which constitute the parameters within which Irish governments are compelled to operate, are just not going to be there to do too much. So, the have to square the circle of building an ‘Irealnd for All’ while keeping th bond markets on side. I think most of us have a hunch about how that’s going to work out. What the election has shown, in my view, is that people actually election promises, slogans and manifestos fairly seriously. FF have painted themselves into a corner and raised expectations that probably can’t meet. There are some stern tests ahead for their ‘Ireland for All’ nonsense when the vulture funds start evicting in the thousands.

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3. sonofstan - March 15, 2016

There’s a bit of disavowal going on isn’t there? FF people going ‘I’m not personally against it, but them lads wouldn’t wear it’. so you get to look ‘mature’ without the consequences of following through.

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irishelectionliterature - March 15, 2016

There are plenty of pragmatic people in FF, however the vehemence of the hatred towards FG from some of the FF membership is unreal and totally illogical.
It will take another election to get them to even consider supporting FG never mind going in with them.
Post 2011 you are down to the hardcore membership.

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4. Ivorthorne - March 15, 2016

Elements of FF and FG seem to be doing their best to put the other party in a bad position with regard to the formation of the next government. They seem to believe that the electorate will be unhappy with the party who refuse to go into government but also know that – after a respectful period – they are in a coalition that they need to find a point of principle on which to leave if they want the best position for the next election.

FG want FF in a grand coalition with a rotating Taoiseach because leaving before their “man” becomes Taoiseach looks irresponsible and they know that whoever the leader of FF is will want to be Taoiseach – if for no other reason that personal ambition. FF would probably prefer supporting a FG government from outside because it allows them to pull the whole thing down on the first popular issue FG fuck up on. Either side would probably take another election right now because it couldn’t get any worse, but if they’re seen to cause it . . .

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5. CL - March 16, 2016

“It is clear there is no possibility of either a majority or a minority government without some agreement between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael and we would actively encourage the two parties to accept that reality.

“Any discussions regarding policies are meaningless until Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have made a decision about whether or not they can work together in some form of arrangement.”-Catherine Murphy
http://www.rte.ie/news/election-2016/2016/0315/775136-political-negotiations/

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