Thursday, May 24, 2007

Votail Pairti an Lucht Oibre

No, I don't know how to pronounce that, nor if it's grammatically correct.

Anyway, I just didn't want to repeat a header. Election day in Ireland, Britains nearest neighbour (you know, the only country we have a land border with) - it'd be hard to know it, compared with the acres of comment about our other neighbour, France's recent election.

Here's how the Irish Independent is calling it:

Fianna Fail38%
Fine Gael26%
Sinn Fein9%
Progressive Democrats3%

Bearing in mind that at least 1 "Independent" is the CWI member of the Dail, that makes for a left vote of roughly 2% Labour + Sinn Fein) - although Sinn Fein are being given pariah treatment by all other parties. The centre right (Fianna Fail and Fine Gael + PDs) make up 67%, so it's clear that there's not going to be a red revolution in Ireland any time soon.

Labour has been happy, due to the breakdown in teh votes and the rivalry between the two right parties, to enter into coalition with eitehr of them. The fact that Sinn Fein are outcast provides an interesting pioint for discussion, relevent to elft debates over here - indside or outside Labour? In reality, the two party system is a series of coalitions, labour being made up of some Christian Democrats (like Blair), Social democrats (Brown), and Socialists. Inside the coalition, you have influence, but also blame and gult by association. You also have collective discipline which works for the dominant forces. Outside, though, you have long years in the wilderness, and difficulty getting your message across.

Now, Sinn Fein talk like they want a sniff of government, but if they join a coalition they will have to abandon chunks of their programme - maybe by staying out (being kept out) they can become seen as a true opposition, and their vote will grow over the years until they are a major rather than a minor party.

Either way, it's something of a shame the left vote is as split as the right, for all the radicalism of Sinn Fein a Labour group with that sort of clout backed up by the militancy of Irelands unions could get a lot of work done (their nurses have just finished yet another strike).

I think Fianna Fail are canny enough to cling onto power, possibly without Bertie Ahern. The PDs are doomed, the point of interest, then, is will Sinn Fein be let in?

Here endeth the ramble.

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