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The Seanad… April 25, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Noel Whelan raised a thought-provoking point as regards the current situation last week in the IT. In the course of pointing out some potential anomalies, for example, a Seanad where elections had taken place but Taoiseach’s nominees had not been nominated due to the current political uncertainty – a long shot I’d have thought, but not entirely impossible, he writes:

It seems clear therefore that in addition to its vulnerable minority position in the Dáil a newly elected Kenny-led government would not have a working majority in the Seanad. Any deal Kenny does with a select group of Independent TDs would have no impact in the Seanad. Even with many Fine Gaelers among his nominated 11 Kenny would be dependent on Fianna Fáil abstentions to get any legislation passed there and even that may not be enough.


This new government, however, will hold sway in neither house. In reality Fianna Fáil will have Enda Kenny’s new government by the proverbials in both the Dáil and the Seanad. After a disastrous election Fine Gael looks set to gain office again and even more more office but little real power.

One would have to wonder why Kenny would particularly want to operate in such a context as Taoiseach. Everything looks as if it will be remarkably contingent. Yet the reason is obvious. He will be Taoiseach, FG will be in office. In that context does power become merely an additional extra? Possibly so if FG is in government for two successive terms, however short the second one may be.

And in this I think it is important to consider the FG identity. To this point it has always been a one-term government party. Never has it been returned (as FG) for two successive terms. It may seem that this truncated government that events appear to be pushing towards isn’t worth that much, but it is not just Kenny who will be pleased to return to office after an election.

I wonder has FF thought this aspect of these matters through? It may well be that it has the upper hand in terms of an implicit veto on whether FG is in office or not, but government is to some degree its own legitimation. FG has never possessed that aura of permanent governance that FF at its height and for many years did. Now, for all that FF made gains, it remains much diminished from its peak.

Perhaps it does not matter, perhaps at the next election FF will gain ten or fifteen seats (putting it up into the mid-50s – a lamentable performance by their standards) and racing ahead of FG. Perhaps they will have a flock of FF gene-pool Independents to work with. But none of that is absolutely assured. I wonder if they’re unintentionally gifting something very precious to FG?


1. deiseach - April 25, 2016

Apart from concern over SF becoming the party of the opposition, which surely is going to happen by default if FF are propping up the government, I think Martin’s reticence has to be seen in the context of the grassroots going mental at the prospect of sharing power with FG. Surely everyone at the level of the Dáil/Seanad would like to get their hands dirty pulling the levers of power? No one ever rose up the ranks in FF on the back of protest politics. Maybe I’m missing something here. Has the bruising FF got in 2011 changed them so much?


2. dmoc - April 25, 2016

Also, if they do trade places with FG next time out, winning 50-55 with FG under 50 (as seems likely, but far from guaranteed), then what position do they think they’ll be in? They’ll be in the dubious position that FG is in now. Do they really think SF or Lab will go in with them to make up the 25-30 seat gap? Or the Greens?

They’ll be kept in power by a similar stitch up as the one forming now – and FG will return insult like for like.

Of course, the core FF vote might come back in force, in which case the above is moot. If that does happen and FF gets back to the high 60s/70s, then it’s time to write off the Irish electorate.

Mencken: “Democracy is the idea that the people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard”.

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