Current Affairs Politics

Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Greens Shuffle Towards Coalition Government

Watching yesterday’s performative politics in Dáil Éireann I was reminded of the words of the Mock Turtle’s song from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: “Will you, won’t you, will you, won’t you, won’t you join the dance?”. So far the Establishment parties are resolute in their determination not to link arms with Sinn Féin and step lively into a new history-making government. But what about keeping the levers of power within a slightly expanded, slightly rebranded version of the old Golden Circle? There is a distinct whiff of game play and theatrics to the actions of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael as both coyly eye up the other in the news media, with the Green Party fairly fizzing at the thoughts of joining an ideological threesome of the centre-right that will likely leave the whole country well and truly screwed. However with Micheál Martin and Eamon Ryan apparently setting the scene to hustle Leo Varadkar into a tripartite coalition, strictly in the “national interest” you understand, an FF-FG-GP-Maybe Other administration looks more likely than not. It’s that or a return to the polls, and the formerly two big beasts of Irish politics are less than eager for that outcome, suspecting that the only beneficiary of a new general election will be Mary Lou McDonald and company.

Meanwhile, editorials, opinion pieces and reports hostile to Sinn Féin are coming thick and fast in the press. Some are very well deserved, some are barrel scraping, and some reek of Establishment paranoia. How long can we continue with a media that wilfully fails to represent a quarter of the electorate when it comes to policies that broadly align with those of Sinn Féin, and nearly half of the electorate when it comes to left-of-centre politics in general? The neo-liberal, socially progressive and economically reactionary hegemony that has dominated Irish newspapers, radio and television for the last twenty years must be challenged, and challenged with vigour. Freedom of the press also means having the freedom to disagree with a press that does not think as you think, does not speak as you speak, and does not care as you care. And we should be alarmed by those politicians, journalists and business figures who argue otherwise.

11 comments on “Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Greens Shuffle Towards Coalition Government

  1. The problem with democracy is that it often throws up results that one doesn’t like. But a true democrat swallows hard, accepts the results with a modicum of good grace, and then acts accordingly. The problem with thwarting democracy is that leads to people losing faith in the democratic process, and that never leads to a good outcome. Time for FF, FG and their cheerleaders in the media to accept the outcome of the election and act accordingly. If SF are not up to the task of governing or cannot deliver what they’ve promised, then the people will speak again at the next election.

    • Do you really need to be reminded how democracy works? Sinn Féin didn’t secure a majority of seats and has no right whatever to form a govt or be in govt except and unless it constitutes or is part of such a majority. The rest of us haven’t gone away – – the 76% who did not give SF a first preference vote – – and we are not going to.

      • That is true. But so is the fact that a majority of the electorate voted against the centre-right government of FG supported by FF. Yet we are likely to have a centre-right continuity government of FG and FG with maybe the GP in the very near future. Which will represent half of the electorate on votes alone. And is not the favoured outcome in post-election polling and not the change the FF and FG and GP leaders have all admitted that the electorate wanted.

        Even putting aside the SF question, another 5 years of right-wing neoliberal government, of a very Irish “landlordism”, will do irreparable harm to this country. Even with a few token gestures to assuage environmental concerns.

        • Do you think token gestures will satisfy people at this point?

          • No, it would only stoke anger among those voters not fooled by the tokenism.

            • What ideas for solving environmental problems do you think are the most popular in Ireland? Solar energy ???(I know that some people in China and NREL are working on PV’s that can also generate electricity from raindrops as well as sun!!! That one would be great in Ireland!!”). Is there much talk about seasonal/chemical storage as I know there is in Germany?

              I was checking out The Green Party of Ireland’s Manifesto and Website and it seemed pretty above board, but in some ways looked better suited to a major environmental group than a full service political party. Is it possible that their problem stems from “outsourcing” their thinking on other issues to some think tank that has proven to be a bad advisor?

              One thing that had me curious was the “The Heritage Act” with the issue of burning areas of the countryside. The GP thinks this will harm some bird that are now rare in Ireland (One bird species listed, the Curlew is all over the place in Seattle. They are fun to watch like ravens!).

              It makes me wonder why would they call those burnings “The Heritage Act”? I looked and haven’t found a clear answer on whether or not fire was part of Ireland’s forest ecosystems as it is in much of the world. Didn’t Ireland have a fair amount of “temperate rain forests”, as England also once did? I find the idea of forest restoration in places like Europe or China to be very interesting..

              • I’m a reforestation / wildling advocate which do much to help a lot of problems in Ireland, from flooding to carbon emissions to fauna etc.

                The Irish Greens are much more like the conservative eco-types found in the UK. Very middle-class, very much all green bins and recycling compost. Some of the real environmental/ecology stuff and how it effects working-class and low-income communities and families does not factor much in their thinking. Like, I know of a couple of prominent Irish Greens with foreign au pairs they brought here to mind their kids while both parents work, and who do several foreign weekend trips or 5-day vacations a year for themselves plus family holidays on top of that.

      • SF did not secure a majority of seats, but it did secure a majority of first preference votes and that deserves to be acknowledged, respected, and reflected in the make up of a government. To do otherwise is patently anti-democratic. Even you can hardly deny it was the mess FG and FF have made of housing and health, and the rocketing homelessness situation, that propelled SF to this election result. SF deserve to given a chance to help ameliorate those problems. If they are given a chance and fail to deliver, the people can remove them at the next election. You see, the real beauty of democracy is not the ability to vote people into power, but the ability to vote them back out of it.

  2. Can we now dispense with the GP being a party of the left and accept they are the Neoliberals they have always professed to be and acted as?

  3. Proportional representation was intended to deliver proportional government. If therefore FF, FG and the GP coalesce to form a government then that is what the system allows them to do.

    However, to lock out and disregard the remaining half including the identifiable voice of one quarter of the electorate who voted SF is wrong. Yes a FF, FG, GP alliance might be what the system allows. But to excludes a substantial minority as effectively as the Unionists up north excluded the voices of a minority, which minority is now eclipsing the previous majority of the unionist golden circle shows exactly how thing can go.

    Folks want change. Ireland is a neoliberal run country that does not serve all of its citizenry. Health and housing are the two biggest inequalities and they need to be addressed. A reunification of Ireland will I suspect occur maybe sooner than later. Brexit has facilitated that I think, and aside of the horrors of history, it just makes sense. One Ireland in Europe with no internal borders.

    But health, housing and a fairer slicing up of the cake requires to be addressed. SF are calling for that whereas the neoliberal vested interests of FF and FG are not. I don’t stay in Ireland and can only observe as an outsider. But from the outside it looks very much that FF and FG are absolute right wing bed fellows of conservatives like Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees Mogg. Pig looked at man, and man looked at pig and they were both the same as I think Orwell put it.

    But if you go back to the beginning of Orwell’s book change occurred – maybe there is a parallel. FF and FG who having initially supported change have ended up back at the beginning. Played correctly SF’s 24.5% of the first preference vote is I think only the start. Folks want a fairer more equitable Ireland and the electorate will demand it.

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