Introducing Stadler and Waldorf – your guides to the 2016 Dáil Éireann elections…

Within the next few weeks or months the people of the Republic of Ireland [or as the readers of Slugger know it – the place they go to get jobs and do their shopping] will go to the polls to vote in a General Election.  We thought it was important to bring this to the readers of Slugger as it’s the only election that actually has anything to do with power on this island.

While the fight to lead the next Government appears to be all but over with caught in the headlights Enda Kenny almost certain to be returned as Taoiseach (aka what happens when a First Minister and Deputy First Minister combine forces into one being, think an even less on the pulse Captain Planet), what will be interesting is how much additional support Fine Gael and Labour will need to form a coalition.

At the last election both Government parties enjoyed so much success they could happily recast some of their more difficult representatives as mere extras in Dáil Éireann but with a much tighter election ahead they won’t have that luxury.  Every seat will count – even James Bannon’s.

Also up for grabs will be the role of heckler in chief, aka leader of the opposition with both Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin are vying for the role.

The proportional representation, single transferable vote system coupled with multi seat constituencies ensures that a General Election campaign is a war that is fought out across 40 different battle fields – only this is a war that generally isn’t accompanied by a marching season.  Often the battles in an individual constituency take place completely independently of what’s going on nationally.

Over the coming weeks we’ll take a look at individual constituencies and highlight some points of interest that political junkies and those who have too much time on their hands may find interesting.  Things will change over a campaign and with many seats being decided by a few hundred votes and dependent on transfers and eliminations. And yes that is us getting our excuses in early.

Experience tells us that success in politics is a combination of Ps. People, place, perspiration, policy, polls, party and pre-existing seats. The relative importance of each can change but any political strategists worth their salt will spend more time looking at maps than manifestos. Given the expense claims of some that would probably explain the approach adopted by a lot of our TDs too.

In every area personalities can overcome the weight of party loyalties and hard work can overcome a poor start in opinion polls. Research consistently shows that one of the main factors of governing a voter’s decision is whether they’ve had a direct experience with the candidate or not.  Knowing what politicians are like you’d think this would put more people off!

The current guess is that Enda will look to stage the election at the end of February.  Clearly a sentimentally sort, he’s obviously trying to get as close as possible to the 5th anniversary of his last General Election success which was held on the 25th February 2011.  We’re told he likes to think of the 25th February as his Taoiseach birthday.

Hopefully over the course of the coming weeks as we enter into a period where the strength of the individual candidates will be put to the test.  We aim to provide some insight into who the next batch of muppets to make up the 32nd Dáil Éireann will be. Some say that political punditry can be described as the art of stating the blindingly obvious.  We hope to prove that in the land of the blind, those with blogspace on a generally Northern focused site are king.

About the Authors – Stadler and Waldorf

Statler and Waldorf are two former political party muppets who have 30 years’ experience in Irish politics.  They now specialise in providing analysis from the sidelines and will be providing Slugger with their regular musings ahead of the upcoming General Election.

 

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  • tmitch57

    St. and Wal, very interesting introductory piece. As an outsider, I see SF’s progress in the South over the last decade as similar to the same breakout that occurred with SF–The Worker’s Party from 1982 to 1992 to when it became Democratic Left. What insights can you glean from this earlier republican cum socialist success in the Republic for Sinn Fein today and how did the 2010 recession impact Sinn Fein’s growth in a way that The Worker’s Party did not experience during the 1980s and early 1990s? Would it be possible to imagine a future merger with the Labour Party, but this time in reverse with the Republicans swallowing up the Labourites rather than vice versa as occurred in 1997?

  • Stadler and Waldorf

    Thanks for the comment tmitch57. Well as we said in our piece most of this will come down to local battles in the coming election. A considerable aspect of Sinn Féin’s success has been down to their local level engagement and ongoing community involvement..

    The collapse of the Fianna Fáil vote last time out and associated ramifications for the support enjoyed by the various traditional parties is causing immense realignment throughout the political environment here. It’s in a state of churn. It’s also unlikely to settle down in the near future. All of this is having an impact on Sinn Féin’s growth and will continue to impact for some time to come.

    Merging with Labour would seem to offer very little to Sinn Féin in the current circumstances. They are set to become at least the third largest party in the Dáil next time out. That would allow them to usurp Labour’s traditional position. For Labour and Sinn Féin to merge would probably require Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil to come together. That still seems unlikely in the short term. Longer term, who knows. As always in our political environment it is the numbers that ultimately dictate.