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Minority governments December 23, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Looks like ‘they’re here to stay’ according to Mary Regan in the SBP. And apparently one M. Martin, who might be expected to have some insight into these matters, launching ‘How Ireland Voted’ (‘an analysis on the election that nobody won’) ‘revealed that he believes minority governments with lengthy periods of government formation, as we saw earlier this year are becoming the norm’. That this may be making a virtue of necessity almost hardly needs saying. What is a bit surprising, though, is the following that he also said:

He argued that Irish politics is in transit, ‘in the final stages of moving away from the Westminster model of parliament’ to becoming ‘solidly European in terms of number of parties and complexity of government formation’.

Odd. One has only to cast one’s mind back to 2007 and recall how Fianna Fáil functioned with one much smaller political party partner – the GP, a half a political party partner (kind of sort of) in terms of the rump PDs plus arrangements with an array of Independents to see that we’ve had complexity for quite some time now. And where do we draw that particular line? FF and the PDs in 2002, or 1997? Or FF and the LP before that? Worth keeping in mind that in 1997 Independents were also in the mix to sustain that government. And they were still being kept in the fold in 2002-2007.

As to the range of parties, surely we could argue that since the 1980s with the arrival of first the WP and then PD that we’d had near continental like diversity of opinion.

Not sure about Regan’s point in the following either:

This attachment [to political parties on the part of voters] declined significantly to 40 per cent throughout the 1980s – a time when the transition was made from single-party administrations to coalition governments.

Really? What of those FG/LP administrations of the 1960s and 1970s? Though a broader point is interesting that identification on the part of individual voters with particular parties has fallen from 75% in the 1970s to a mere 25% today. I wonder is that a bit understated. Somehow FG and FF still command a fair bit of support between them, and SF too. And certainly that support is fluid, but it does seem to me we’ve reached their core votes in recent times and a bit more on top. Indeed Regan notes that the study Martin launched ‘[showed] 52% vote the same in 2011 as 2007 and 58% voted the same in 2016 as they did in 2011’. I wonder does that suggest that people may not want to admit openly to an identification with a party or certain independents, but that they do de facto have one.

She does argue that ‘FF and FG will have to build up a signifiant head of steam by relying on economic and social circumstances to secure a Dáil majority with the support of a smaller party’. But parties are resilient. Remarkably so. They can survive without TDs or even councillors across years. And with those accoutrements they can survive longer. As Regan says, at the moment FF and FG ‘must rely on each other to govern’. But that isn’t going to be the situation in perpetuity.


1. dublinstreams - December 23, 2016

“does Dáil suit such a framework. The experience of this minority arrangement – where little work is being done and many TDs feel frustrated”

such as it always was.

international audit of 19 democracies political parties “The only country in which the Member/Electorate ratio has not declined in recent years is Ireland, which appears to have experienced a modest increase (from 2.03 to 2.16) in the 5 years following 2008.” https://politicalreform.ie/2016/10/06/an-international-audit-of-irish-political-parties/ not a surprise that heated close elections cause membership rise


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