Ireland goes to the polls on Thursday. In the final days of the campaign, there seems to be a growing expectation that neither the current Fianna Fail-PD coalition nor the opposition Fine Gael-Labour alliance will get a governing majority.
While calling an STV election is something of a mugs game, there’s a lot of speculation that the only combinations with a workable majority could involve Fianna Fail-Labour and Fianna Fail-Sinn Fein alliances, the very options which many of those concerned have been most anxious to rule out.
Labour’s Pat Rabbitte has consistently ruled out a deal with Fianna
Fail. It’s possible that the prospect of keeping Sinn Fein out of power
might give him the excuse he needs to do a u-turn.
Given that Fianna Fail are likely to lose seats, the Sinn Fein scenario
would probably require SF to take something like the 10 seats they are
targeting, as well as the support of independents.
Fianna Fail are currently ruling out a deal with Sinn Fein, supposedly because of their economic policies, although as Kevin Rafter notes, Sinn Fein look less and less like the kind of far-left party this portrays them as.
Expatriate political analysis is notoriously unreliable and
second-generation analysis is no doubt worse, but for what its worth, I suspect Fianna
Fail-Labour is the most likely outcome.
There does seem to be something of a mood for change in Ireland, which the rainbow tapped into in the early part of the campaign, but at times this has degenerated into the politics of Buggin’s turn.
During his TV debate* with Bertie Ahern, Enda Kenny seemed to embrace Tony Blair’s quote that ten years in power is enough for anyone as a serious argument for a change of Government. It isn’t, but we will see how far it gets him over the next few days.
*Available online at RTE’s election website. As is the debate between Labour, Sinn Fein, the PDs and the Greens, and an interesting street confrontation between the Greens and PDs that was also picked up at Balrog.