Current Affairs Politics

Fine Gael Likely To Top European Elections While The SDLP and Alliance Compete For MEP Seat

If the latest polls are correct Fine Gael is likely to emerge as the biggest winner from the forthcoming elections to the European Parliament, with the party’s candidates topping the polls in the regional constituencies of Dublin, South and the catchall Midlands–North-West (which, excluding Dublin, provides a pleasingly historical Leath Mhogha and Leath Choinn analogy for the division of the country). While the glacially slow electoral recovery by Fianna Fáil seems to be on track a majority of right-of-centre voters continue to favour the Blueshirts. Which leaves one with the impression that FF is placing more faith in the local government elections to be held on the same day as the European ones, following Micheál Martin’s conservative strategy of bottom-up consolidation and rebuilding for the former “party of government”.

Some surveys are placing Sinn Féin in a poor third position for the European Parliament elections, though caveats abound given the methods being used by the polling companies to “weigh” the SF vote. That said, it seems likely that Mary Lou McDonald’s party will benefit from increased support in the locals which it will no doubt use to deflect from any possible drop or levelling off in its Brussels’ vote. Thankfully the Labour Party continues to languish in the electoral doldrums with the Green Party enticing away some of its more well-heeled voters with touchie-feelie policies designed to ease liberal consciences, while SF eats into its ever-shrinking working-class base. Given that the Greens have failed to apologise for their embrace of neoliberal politics while previously in government their sudden popularity can be best explained by short voter memories, the growing importance of environmental politics and some positive spin off the success of their regional branch in the northern local elections.

Speaking of which, in what we might term the “North-East Ulster” constituency for the European Parliament, things are hotting up in the race for the third seat. The Sinn Féin candidate is set to top the poll with the Democratic Unionist Party likely to come in a close second but the third and final seat seems to be up for grabs, following decades of control by the Ulster Unionist Party. Could a second nationalist or moderate pro-union candidate take it? The Social Democratic and Labour Party and the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland certainly seem to think so, which may explain why their supporters and representatives are taking lumps out of each other in online debates and rows. Which makes for an interesting spectacle. Whatever the case, it’s probable that two Remain-supporting MEPs are going to be elected in the Six Counties, strengthening the local demand for the British government and parliament to concede in its opposition to the peace-saving Backstop Protocol in the draft Withdrawal Agreement with the European Union.

13 comments on “Fine Gael Likely To Top European Elections While The SDLP and Alliance Compete For MEP Seat

  1. A lot of apathy out there and many will not vote, the story of the €6 million EU expense money to Irish MEP’s over the weekend left a bitter taste for many

  2. I think SF will get the three seats in the ROI. But it is certainly true that there’s been no great bonus from a new leader over the past year or so.

    The implications of two remain MEPs (or really soft-Brexit MEPs) are significant. Hope it happens.

    • I agree but I wonder if their vote has levelled off for now? The polls seem to indicate a holding pattern or a slight fall back. But some of the polling on SF is open to question so I’m genuinely not sure. Whatever the case, in the view of its opponents in the Dáil and the press, any move in the SF vote other than up is read as some sign of impending electoral disaster for it.

      • I think it has levelled off. Somewhat. Then again, they always do. Whatever else they’re now a permanent fixture and I figure that is good for the island.

        • I’d guess so too. And not for the first time. Anything left-of-centre is welcome, even if SF falls short on some expectations. My own included. They are my default vote but more out of the lack of a realistic left-republican alternative.

          • Very much agree. And in fairness they do fight the good fight across a range of areas. As you say, they’re not perfect, but… I’ve given up on perfection. And that point you make re left-republican. That’s key to me too.

  3. Wee Jim

    “it’s probable that two Remain-supporting MEPs are going to be elected in the Six Counties, strengthening the local demand for the British government and parliament to concede in its opposition to the peace-saving Backstop Protocol in the draft Withdrawal Agreement with the European Union.”
    …or encouraging the British government to dump the six counties completely. If they decide they support a “no deal” departure from the EU, why bother with any deals connected with the EU?

    • With an ascendant section of British society on a mission to revive the country’s past imperial glory, or something approximate to it, shedding territory is probably the last thing on the mind of certain Brexiteers. Acquiring “lost” territory, now that would be more in the spirit of the Brexit movement and this new age of Gloriana.

      • What would you make of an argument such as this one:

        https://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/world/the-myth-of-brexit-as-imperial-nostalgia

        This article seems to say that there are pro-Imperial and anti-Imperial impulses in both the Leave and Remain camps.

        The part about Black and Asian Britons having some attachment to The Commonwealth but “no love for The Empire (sorry Han Solo!!), makes a certain amount of sense-even if they didn’t give any hard data on how many people feel that way exactly.

        The whole legacy of The British Empire is extremely strange in some ways.

        One thing I would posit. Having talked to a few British Remainers, and watched some Dutch and French people debating EU Federalism, I get the impression that some of them have a moderately weak sense of what Federalism actually entails-coming from very Centralized countries. For example, I’ve heard some idealists argue for Federalism “So nobody gets left behind with all these opt outs.” Well friends, Federalism is often about compromises with opts outs and exceptions (at least temporarily)!!!

        Not to advocate tolerating something truly atrocious in the name of Federalist compromises (that has been known to go badly to in the history of many Federal nations).

        That said, I don’t have a strong opinion about EU Federalism either way. However, although I don’t think Federalism is a bad system for a single countries-as long as countries know the historic lessons of what does and doesn’t work for it-, I’ve serious reservations about it as a model for the EU.

        • While there were several factors playing in the Brexit vote, common factors observable elsewhere in the politics of Europe and the Americas, that sense of a post-imperial ennui, a pining for a lost age of empire, was an important one. And it lay at the heart of the Brexit impulse in UK politics since at least the 1970s and the socio-economic turmoil some blamed on the nation’s decline, which ran parallel to the loss of its overseas territories and colonies.

          I don’t believe that most Brexiteers want an actual return of the imperial territories (though some do). What they want is the empire without the nastier elements of empire. Imperialism without colonialism. Because that is the popular perception of the British empire in Britain. It’s all about international standing, respect, prestige, that the UK should be acknowledged as a first among equals because of British exceptionalism, etc. That the Brits are naturally superior in their language, culture, politics, social mores, business acumen and so and that foreigners should recognise those things and in turn the Brits will be nice to them, and be kind enough to let them trade with Britain and even visit it.

          I’d almost call it a sort of passive-aggressive form of nationalism. Others have put it into better words than me.

          I oppose a federal or even a confederal EU. Where we are now is more or less close enough. Maybe a little bit more in some things, health and welfare and the likes, but not much more. A United States of Europe would never work and could never be achieved except through coercion of some of its constituent parts. While some in the EU, right to the top, want a sort of continent-spanning “Belgium” most Europeans cannot think of anything worse than being “Belgian”! 😉

          • Oh no! Being Belgian! That has to be worse than being made to sing The Marseillaise every morning!

            One thing I can’t help but notice, is this: It seems as if Germany as well as Belgians deal with The EU with a lo more savvy than a lot of the more “Unitary” countries or the ones with “devolved” minority regions. Germany is obviously the most Federalized larger member state. Germany comes into The EU not just with the most seats in The EU Parliament, but being a Federal nation generations have grown up learning to deal with multiple Federal Units (To say nothing of the East-West reunification thing!!). Could it be that this could be a sort of “home-grown” advantage they have in terms of thinking strategically about EU politics? Even if The EU is not Federal and we are both on the same page that it shouldn’t be, The EU is still characterized by negotiations between multiple entities with their own govt.

            With the English I’m wondering if another contributing factor to their stupidity at seeing other POV’s might not just be The Empire, but also the fact their country is not just very unitary, and so heavily based on a fusion on powers.

            To me the most obvious idea if they really wanted to get more prestige for Britain……..look to the Industrial Revolution and try to run a second “green” version of same. People around the world would much, much more readily admire a Britain that did a “Green Second Industrial Revolution”!!!

            It’s my understand that even during The Industrial Revolution Britain’s political and Colonial Empire and its trading power were often two different things.

            When I was in the anti-war movement we actually had a fair amount of contact with anti-war protesters in Britain. A lot of them were Euroskeptic. I don’t know how they voted on Brexit years later, and couldn’t quiz them on their feelings about The British Empire at the time!!!! I would think a British anti-war protesters wouldn’t want The Flipping Empire back-but everything else I assumed I knew about British people until a few years ago seems to be wrong.

      • Wee Jim

        Many of the Brexiters want to disregard the rest of the world as far as possible – “Ourselves Alone” as their motto, you might say, with a channel wall replacing the Channel tunnel. For all the recent rhetoric, it’s likely the CTA won’t last long either.

  4. Here’s hoping for a Brexiteer Unionist loss of one seat in ‘NE Ulster’.

    Remember a vote for FG is a vote for the European ‘Peoples’ Party, who were until recently only too happy to accommodate Victor Órban in their midst.

    ‘Nuff said.

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