For a Republic, the Election process is “sacred”…this nation at its best. Despite any personal or political preferences, the starting point is that the candidates and parties seek to serve the nation.
Having said that, I cant say that I am sorry to see the back of at least two people.
Fine Gael-Labour have lost this election and they deserved to lose. In the case of Labour, there is a strange immbalance. Arguably some have bucked the trend and held their seats (Brendan Howlin and John Burton got a sympathy vote rather than a personal vote). Dedicated servants of Labour and working class (Joe Costello) have lost or (Kevin Humphries) struggling to keep their seat. But other bench warmers and time servers have been pretty much humiliated and we will never see them in a “Prime Time” studio again.
The Green Party will come back to An Dáil and at least they are serious about engaging. The same can be said for the Social Democrats, the original three members got a ringing endorsement from the Electorate but they dont look like adding to their numbers.
The “Triple As” (Anti Austerity Alliance) are essentially street protestors and in a strange time warp, where the “working class” are permenantly excluded from governance. They seem to enjoy it.
For the most personal of all reasons…I detest the “Stickies” and whether they called/call themselves Republican Clubs, Workers Party, Democratic Left or entryists into Labour Party, I have no time for them. Insofar as “Sticky” influence within the Labour Party is diminished, then I welcome that. And hopefully there will be a coming-together of the rump of Labour and Social Democrats…surely the lesson is that the traditional Labour voters will reward people who do not desert them. Votes for the “Triple A ” are essentially protest votes.
The big winners are Fianna Fáil.Micheál Martin comes across as a patently decent man. The Party was hammered in 2011 but the voters have been forgiving. The 2016 total number of seats will be more than double the 2011 total but still a few below the Fine Gael total.
Clearly the coalition government of FG-Labour has been defeated. And there is an onus on FF to at least try and form a new coalition. The Independent Alliance will have six or seven seats and their selling point is anti-corruption rather than philosophy so they might be active or passive partners. The same can be said for “FF gene pool” Independents.
Sinn Féin will make a “principled” show of turning down a place in government…but the real point is that neither FG or FF will ask them. SF is simply too toxic and remains so while Gerry Adams is at the helm. His denials of his own history were understandable in the 1980s but are increasingly irritating. His interview strategy, developed in interview rooms at Castlereagh RUC station does not play nearly as well in a RTÉ studio.
Sinn Féin had a good election. But not nearly as good as the election Fianna Fáil had. They went into this election thinking they would be THE story. The 13.8 per cent is comfortably above the 2011 percentage but transfers were a problem. There were near misses…Paul Donnelly and Chris Andrews for example. There is an Adams factor….he motivates Sinn Féin as an icon and he turns people off as a relic. Mary Lou McDonald has been seen as the successor. Increasingly she looks like a short term Leader….Adams is rarely seen without Mary Lou nodding obediently at his shoulder. But Eoin ÓBroin and Matt Carthy are untainted by Adams….and the North.
So….a grand coalition of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil? Well, there are nuanced answers to pointed questions in TV studios. There is a dance going on. FG is a conservative Party…..and FF is whatever it needs to be….”centrist” is as good a word as any.
Rhetoric such as “putting the country first” will be heard but I cant see how the two Civil War parties can join in government without alienating core support. The downside of “putting the country first” argument is that SF becomes the Official Opposition….and I am not sure that either FG and FF want that.
Watch this space.