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Irish Politics: After the election – What now?

Irish Politics: After the election – What now?

The election is over and the results are interesting. Obviously everybody can interpret the results differently based on their own preferences and therefore my interpretation can’t be completely neutral either. But this is what I see:

Fine Gael and Labour were punished severely for how they ran the country in the last 5 years. Labour largely lost their identity and differentiation in the last 5 years and this resulted in a wipeout in many constituencies. But if you think it is over for Fine Gael and Labour, you will be wrong. As we have seen with Fianna Fail, all that is needed is a government that does things in no better way and suddenly you can be back at the races. So if Fine Gael and Labour want to have a chance to win again next time, they should just let Fianna Fail run the country further into the ground.

Sinn Fein definitely is the biggest winner, but many think that they will win as long as they are not involved in a government as their promises don’t seem to be realisable. The rest is just the rest. Yes, some could get a king maker role in the search for a stable government but since most Independent and many others are more interested in their constituency than the country their election is in many cases counterproductive.

What now? The worst would be to have a new election very soon and luckily the politicians agree with that largely. A new election now would result in a possibly totally random result. Some voters could be shocked about the wins or losses of one or the other party and might change thei voting behaviour significantly, so the outcome is unpredictable and nobody who just got voted in would want that.

So then the only other option is to build a government. The two parties are struggling against it, but in my opinion Fianna Fail and Fine Gael should definitely form a Grand Coalition. They have well over 50% of the seats and the voters did want to have them in that position. Micheal Martin’s suggestion of a comprehensive reform of the Dail and the system is a very good idea and the two big parties could work that out together. It doesn’t really matter to the country or the people who is Taoiseach, but I can understand why to the parties this looks differently. A Grand Coalition can be good for the country, but it also can be detrimental to the junior partner in such a coalition. They might get punished in the next election even further.

Sinn Fein might get away again of not having to take any leadership role, but they won’t get away forever. There wanting to stay in the opposition is well justified and makes sense from their point. In control they would have to put promises into reality and that can be very very difficult….and once you screw up, your meteoric rise might not continue.

So there is a LOT of strategising going on. More than is good for Ireland. But ti shouldn’t really surprise us that the parties, like the Independents, more think about their own bacon than about what is good for the country.

By the way, if no government is found, that’s no problem. The Irish constitution has considered that as a possibility: The old government will continue until a new government is found. There will never be a gap. Minority governments are also a possibility. Yes, more negotiation will be required. But essential laws have even in the past been agreed by the big parties, so they could still continue with that. And non essential laws are just that: Non essential! The budget is many moons away and even a need to negotiate a budget that would be acceptable by all might not be automatically a bad thing.

Are we in a mess? Not at all! There is no panic or worry about the future of the country. I hope they will all talk to all parties and see what makes sense and what can be done and at some stage in the next few months, we will probably have a new government again. Patience!! :-)

Stay away from Independents!

Stay away from Independents!

I am a foreigner and therefore – so I have been told occasionally – I have no clue. Keep that in mind when you read this opinion piece. :-)

Today, I am appealing to you NOT to vote for any independent politicians in the next General Election. If you want your voice to be heard, you have to decide for one of the parties, despite the fact that it is quite difficult. A vote for an Independent is a wasted vote, because at best, your Independent TD will never be more than a solo-runner that will have no significant impact and influence. At worst, however, he/she is a mad nutcase that is only interested in his/her own private agenda.

Why are Independents unreliable? Because you don’t know what they are thinking, who or what influences them and because they are a loose cannon. Look at Mick Wallace for example. The people that voted for him have to be aware that he will NEVER be at a position of influence in the Dail (and that is probably a very good thing for the rest of us!), but you also don’t know how he will vote on an issue that will come up in 2 years time and – different to parties – he won’t have to discuss his opinion or his voting behaviour with anybody.

Or take Michael Lowry, a seriously dodgy character who I wouldn’t trust to look after just EUR 50 of my own money. Can he be trusted to partake in running the country?

So what do you get by voting for an Independent? Nothing! Your representative has no influence or impact, might be a mad-cap looney and the only thing you achieve is to protest against the parties. Yes, that at times is a good feeling, BUT keep in mind that it will take many long years until you have the opportunity again to vote. Protest is a short term emotional decision, but in two years time you are still stuck with the nutcase that you voted just to protest against the parties.

So vote for the person that you would trust to look after your own hard earned EUR 5000 and vote for the party that is most aligned with your values and believes!!

Having read all that, I just want to remind you that – as a foreigner – I am not meant to have any clue about what I am talking about, but what if I did have a point!? ;-)

Seanad or no Seanad?

Seanad or no Seanad?

Before they got elected Fine Gael promised that they would abolish the Seanad. At the time most people saw this Upper House of the Parliament as an undemocratic, costly and unnecessary institution that should be removed rather sooner than later. At the time Fine Gael was very popular as they had just won the election. Since then a lot has happened.
Fine Gael is not at all that popular anymore and has less support than Fine Fail, the party that was blamed for the Irish recession and a party that many declared as a “dead man walking”. This turn around happened in such a short time that Fine Gael should be seriously worried.

A consequence of that public change of mind is that people now don’t trust Fine Gael anymore and suddenly think a parliamentary control instance might still be a good idea. They ignore that the elections to the Seanad are COMPLETELY undemocratic as the system of electing Seanad members is a very odd mechanism that was dreamt up by the founders of the Irish democracy who clearly had a somewhat twisted view (from today’s perspective) of democracy. A huge proportion of people in Ireland have absolutely no voting rights.

So Fine Gael has screwed up and now the opinion about the Seanad changes and more people ask for a change or improvement of the Seanad instead of an abolition.

In my opinion the Seanad COULD be a very helpful instance, but only if a way was found that gives EVERY Irish citizen a voting right AND only if the election to the Seanad is completely different than the election to the Dail. One way could be a nationwide list system that is put together by each party completely constituency independent. It would have to rule out Independent candidates (unless they organise themselves in a list of Independents) and the Universities would have to lose their candidates. Another aspect would have to be that the Taoiseach must not have the right to put his friends on the Seanad by-passing the elections.

Significant changes, but they would make the Seanad to what it should be. Without that? Get rid of this unnecessary forum.

Some people have different agendas though and they are always shouting very loud. David Norris is one of them. He will disappear in a deserved political insignificance if the Seanad is abolished and he is fighting for his “importance”. He is attacking “Enda bloody Kenny” (Norris, sophisticated and polite as always!) for trying to abolish the Seanad and calls anyone who supports the plans to scrap the Seanad a “liar, thief and traitor to the Irish people”.

David Norris is a rude bully and people like him make me hope that the Seanad will be gone soon.

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