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No one wants an election now. But the clock is ticking on the election! November 30, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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It’s amazing how the above trope has taken hold. Take the IT editorial on foot of the debacle of the last week or two…

Frances Fitzgerald, the safe pair of hands installed at the head of the Department of Justice in 2014 to stabilise an organisation in turmoil, finally bowed to the inevitable yesterday and tendered her resignation. In doing so, she has averted a snap election that should never have been on the cards in the first place.

And:

Fitzgerald’s departure had become a political imperative. It takes a pre-Christmas election off the table, but it leaves serious questions for the Department of Justice and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

But:

A tumultuous week leaves the confidence-and-supply agreement between the Government and Fianna Fáil intact, just about. It may survive another few months, but make no mistake: the election countdown is now on.

Or how about this from Sarah Bardon:

There were only two outcomes from this particular shambles – a general election at a crucial time for Ireland or the resignation of the deputy leader of Government.

But:

Both parties are anxious and ready for battle. The general election may not spoil your festive festivities, but the game is on, and a general election is merely a matter of weeks away.

Or how about Pat Leahy:

Whether the Taoiseach had to lay out the facts of life or not, it is clear that faced with either a resignation or an election, there was only one choice. Faced with the cliff edge of a general election being called this week, they pulled back.

But:

But there’s no doubt that the events of the past week have been profoundly damaging for the relationship between the two largest parties. And because of that, the Fitzgerald controversy will almost certainly shorten the life of the Government.
Both parties have begun preparations for the next election in recent months. Fianna Fail began the process in the spring – after Enda Kenny signalled his departure – and Leo Varadkar began putting preparations in place soon after his election as Taoiseach.

Uh-huh. So an unwanted election is now a near certainty for the (possibly very) near future. I get how the instability aspect works, how the confidence and supply agreement is under pressure. But this week we saw how the lack of enthusiasm for an election pushed those aspects aside. Consequently there’s one glaring contradiction evident here. No one wants the election. But it’s now closer! Even though we just averted an election because no one wanted it!

Okay, there’s the issue of a Winter election and worse a pre-Christmas election. There are logistical reasons for not wanting an election, there are matters of perception. Arriving at voters doorsteps this week is probably akin to dumping a pile of month old refuse in their back yards – unsought for and unwelcome at the best of times, and now, in this cold…

So reality, or pragmatism, or call it what we will, has to play a part.

And yet, in three months time is the electorate going to be more enthusiastic about an election? Is their appetite going to have increased? To me all this smacks of the media (and some political folk) getting overly excited. They’d like nothing better than an election, sure why not? But …

Leahy makes an interesting point:

Leo Varadkar received two messages from TDs and Ministers returning from their constituencies after the weekend: one was that people didn’t want an election and the second was that the organisation was not yet ready for one. But by the time the next crisis comes around, they’ll be ready.

But, that latter is only one part of it. Again, why would ‘people’ want an election ‘next time around’?

And what about Bardon’s point re this being a ‘crucial time’ which softened coughs. Is three months going to be less crucial for the state?

There’s another point. The atmosphere in 2010 and 2015 was quite unlike that now. Then both governments in situ were either evidently in serious crisis or nearing the end of their term. Indeed that in 2010 was falling apart visibly. Whereas this government despite its curious make-up and even more curious foundations (not least the arrangement with FF) doesn’t have that sense of being but a vote away from disaster. In fact, I’d almost go so far as to say, it reminds me of little as much as the mid-term period for the last government, solidly in power and exercising (albeit within obvious constraints).

None of this guarantees no election, but for there to be one something has to give. I cannot at this point see what that is. IEL has similar thoughts here…

Still, the appointment of a new Tánaiste today will no doubt be exciting for the person concerned – for if Leahy et al are correct they may be in that position for what, two, three months?

Comments»

1. dublinstreams - November 30, 2017

Did you not see Stephen Collins saying this debacle has strengthened the relationship between the 2 leaders. https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/stephen-collins-don-t-bank-on-a-general-election-by-spring-1.3309773

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