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Moving on from the recent political past? April 11, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

A lot of noise over the weekend about the formation of a new government. Fianna Fáil are doing their best to present an image of constructiveness after a very real back-lash against them due to their refusal to enter a partnership government. Minority government is all in the air – more on that over the next few days. It will be educative to see how matters go on Thursday. If one is to believe the media there have been some interesting meetings over the past forty-eight hours between the parties, or leading members thereof. The only game in town? We’ll see.

It is clear that the result early this year at the election was of a scale and nature that FF hadn’t entirely expected. To be so close, so tantalisingly close, to Fine Gael was an added bonus. 24.3% of the vote as against 25.5%. 44 TDs as against 50.

Compare and contrast with the final polls of the election campaign and FF was pushing up towards the higher end of its support. They’d been broadly speaking in a band of support between 16 and 23% and they went a percentage point or so better. It looks reasonable to suggest they increased support across the campaign.

The reasons aren’t entirely surprising. Martin had a good campaign, he came across better than Kenny, Burton and Adams in debate. Of course he may not be facing that triumvirate again. A younger FG leader might cause him some trouble – a different SF leader likewise (by the way, what shape the leader debates next time out – three leaders for one, or four?). Government ineptitude across the previous five years was a much deeper factor – one that seriously impacted on the LP and caused more than glancing blows to FG.

And there was a certain element of forgetfulness. In 2011 FF was well down. 17.4% at the election. I remember talking to a long time member from the west who was genuinely shocked by the response to him and their local candidate on the door. He’d never experienced such hostility in fifty years of canvassing for the party. He never will again it seems like. A chunk of about 8% of the electorate was willing to somewhat forgive, somewhat forget, even if a larger portion was unwilling to return.

Yet FF was out of power, and still is, only five years. A number of those returned in the 32nd Dáil were integrally involved in decisions that contributed to the crisis or served in governments that led up to it.

Yet today all that is seemingly irrelevant. FF is back, albeit in diminished form. It is the hinge around which formation of government pivots.

The question is – if we got to a second election – how does FF do? The anger that party member experienced may have dissipated, but is there any chance that FF could add 1, 2, 5% or more on to its vote? Can those events be wiped away, cleansed – as it were – from the public mind? For 1 in 4 voters they clearly have been.

It’s long been said on the CLR in comments by some that they mustn’t be allowed off the hook. In truth FG and the LP, for their own reasons, attempted to keep that past live in the Dáil chamber and beyond during the election campaign, but it didn’t work. Does that suggest that it has lost some of its immediacy?

Or is there a ceiling on its vote even still. The first post-election poll would seem to support that contention.

This is why we are still going through the government formation rigmarole a month and a half after the election. Because it is a gamble on the electorate: does the latter forget yet more or does it push back? It’s that space between those two positions that much of what we see is being fought out within.


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