Current Affairs Politics

Breaking The Golden Circle Is What FF and FG Fear The Most

So what’s next in Irish politics following the unexpected outcome of Saturday’s general election? Sinn Féin has recorded a significant rise with thirty-seven TDanna elected, matching the same number of seats for Fianna Fáil (if we exclude the automatic reelection of the Ceann Comhairle, FF’s Seán Ó Fearghaíl), while Fine Gael has dropped to a humiliating thirty-five. SF is trying to negotiate a rainbow coalition of centrist and left-leaning parties, plus a sizeable chunk of politically ambiguous Independents, but it’s looking like too big an ask. One that certainly wasn’t helped by the idiotic antics of some Sinn Féin representatives during their victory celebrations, which may have done far more damage than most people realise. Especially if we find ourselves back in election territory fairly soon. Breaking what the former FF-splitter Des O’Malley used to label as the “Golden Circle” is one thing. Boasting about breaking the “Free State” is quite another.

Meanwhile the Establishment parties of FF and FG – and maybe Labour – are sitting things out. At least in public. In private all the speculation is about a Fianna Fáil-led coalition government with some sort of participation or support from Fine Gael and others. Even if that support manifests itself as little more than Fine Gael abstaining from a vote on Micheál Martin’s nomination as Taoiseach when the new Dáil meets, presuming the Cork TD has the necessary numbers in the chamber from other groupings. Of course FF needs the traditional “mudguard” of coalition government in Ireland. And the power-hungry Greens might be willing to serve as the progressive gloss on a conservative administration. The Labour Party and the Social Democrats remain more problematic in that equation, as do some Independents. But will Fianna Fáil require all of those extra bums on seats if Leo Varadkar or whoever is leading Fine Gael is willing to play ball? And if left-wing Opposition evaporates outside the ranks of SF and S-PBP?

Naturally, the obvious ideological hookup here is Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, healing one part of the Civil War rift in a conventional European-style centre-right Christian Democrat party. But that gifts the leadership of the official Opposition to Sinn Féin, which might plant all sorts of electoral seeds that neither FF or FG want to see come to fruition.

As for the reporting of the electoral surge by Mary Lou McDonald’s party in the conservative press and media? Dreadful. And in this case, aided and abetted by hard-right commentators in the United Kingdom and the United States, who have run the gamut of inane comparisons from Adolf Hitler to Donald Trump. Speaking of which, here is Colin Gannon writing in The Outline:

A couple of weeks ago in Ireland, as tensions in a general election cycle cranked up, a ghoulish young politician named Jack Chambers attacked ascendant rivals on TV with a refrain that was beginning to calcify into a party line. Irish republican party Sinn Féin’s modest social democratic-style policy proposals are, the red-faced, conservative Fianna Fáil parliamentarian squawked, “a new form of Trumpism in Irish politics.”

Chambers then doubled down, detonating about a raft of other leftwing policies he views as Trumpian and refusing to see what might be so disingenuous or, more accurately, downright confusing about his comments. Just a few days earlier, Ireland’s outgoing taoiseach (or head of government), Leo Varadkar, had arrogantly and cluelessly asserted that a vote for Chamber’s Fianna Fáil would prevent “social progress” — despite Varadkar’s own Fine Gael party being an ideologically convergent center-right facsimile presenting an equal impediment to change. The response from Stephen Donnelly, another Fianna Fáil politician, seemed to descend from Reasonable Politician Heaven. “It’s negative, negative, negative,” he bleated to The Irish Examiner. “It’s very Trumpian Nigel Farage type politics and it doesn’t have a place here.” A hysterical op-ed in The Independent suggested Sinn Féin had amassed huge support and that the party’s leader, Mary Lou McDonald, “could well be the Irish version of Donald Trump.”

Okay, just so things are clear: a more egalitarian taxation system in Ireland is Trumpism, mildly criticizing political opponents is an electoral tactic pioneered by Trump, and the mild-mannered leader of a leftwing nationalist party promising affordable homes, tax reforms, and reunification is a Trump emulator. Right, got it. Makes total sense.

15 comments on “Breaking The Golden Circle Is What FF and FG Fear The Most

  1. Terence patrick hewett

    Politicals complaining about newspaper articles of which they disapprove, be they ever so daft, is like sailors complaining about the sea.

  2. I think SF would be foolish to trust FF with a rotating Taoiseach. Unless SF has it first. FF will just do a DUP and collapse the govt when it comes time to pass it on to SF.

    Looking at GP transfers, it looks like they are the reservoir of temporarily embarrassed FF/FGers. So I expect an FF/GP/LAB minority govt with C&S from FG. Purely for the sake of the country, saving it from the Left.

    Wouldn’t it be TDeanna? Caol le caol agus leathan le leathan.

    • I guess not on that last one, take that Miss Prunty’s ruler!

      • I think that’s quite a realistic appraisal of how FF would act in govt with SF that you present. 1992-1994/5 with the LP in with FF saw the opposite dynamic where it was the LP that was eager to get out. Not that it did them any good, their poll ratings slumped much further once they had gone in with FG. Them’s the breaks.

        • That whole rupture with Reynolds and going in with FG always seemed fishy. I remember it leaving a bitter taste in the mouths of those who had come out for Labour in 92 and then celebrated their subsequent defeat. I have zero proof but the collapse of Reynolds govt, at a crucial time in the peace process and the impact it had on it, has (to me at least) the heavy hand of British military intelligence. If Spring had ever evidence principles or ethics before or after his reasoning might be credible, but he never did, so it really doesn’t.

          How long would an FF/FG/GP coalition last? Which is the scorpion that would sting first? Over/Under a year?

          • Oh it was fishy and whether it was homegrown or sped along by others (and there’s valid arguments in both directions) it certainly came at a certain point and had certain effects on the peace process.

            I don’t know is the answer. I could envisage them tilting left rhetorically, even partly substantively, the cut the legs out from SF. Would they or could they do the necessary in terms of healthcare, housing and so on? If the prize was pushing SF back in its box that might be a real temptation to keep it going as long as it took. The counter pressures would be very great too, the internal bickering, jockeying for advantage, etc, etc.

            • It looks like we’re on course for an FF-FG-GP-Possible Others coalition. Unless the Ó Cúiv brigade throw a spanner in the works. One hears that some younger Green activists are very unhappy about the direction of travel. They should have looked at who they were associating with. The Irish GP leadership, as others have pointed out, is more Green Tory than European-style radical. The Greens could have their own local troubles in Dublin and out in Galway if they jump in with the Civil War parties.

            • Aye, stank but from where did the stench originate? Cui bono only gets you so far, perhaps we’ll know in 75 years.

  3. It’ll be a trackstand, all of them trying to get the other to go first. No-one wants to go into government under those circumstances. FF and FG will sacrifice for the long game to see SF and the flotsam and jetsam implode as a government. There’s zero chance the ragbag of independents will be able to co-exist with a raft of new SF TDanna full of big ideas .

  4. john cronin

    glad my garda uncles aint around to see this: they’d have shot the shinners rather than take orders from them:

  5. Ever known about the black nobility they have a big connection with the events of the last few centuries you’ll see who the establishments in London and Dublin really serve

  6. My spies tell me that one political advisor is employed by Sinn Féin solely to wax of the incipient toothbrush moustache that keeps appearing on Mary Lou’s upper lip. Why haven’t be been told!

    Such an egregious load of shite talked about SF this election.

    Roll on the next election with a full batch of candidates!

  7. What’s next I suspect is a long period of stalemate, because FF, FG, Labour don’t want another election and don’t want to form a coalition.

    I’m thinking eventually there will be an FF/FG coalition with some independents, but I could well be wrong.

    If so it’s our task to ensure it is as unstable as possible, to give new elections and a left/progressive-alliance government a chance.

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