The Irish Examiner’s Noel Whelan looks again at Fianna Fail’s strategy with the added knowledge of the presentation by Trinity politics professor Michael Marsh to the Political Studies Association of Ireland in Limerick last weekend, blogged previously, and argues, in effect, that, with Dermot Ahern’s comments at Stormont, they have seriously overplayed their hand.Particular paragraphs to note are –
“Although in certain seats that limited switch to Sinn Féin could have been crucial, the larger defection to Fine Gael was much more significant countrywide. It was Marsh’s conclusion that Fianna Fáil has more – indeed much more – to fear from the resurgence of Fine Gael than from the rise of Sinn Féin. The Sinn Féin rise, although rapid, is from a low base and is geographically concentrated. The Fine Gael resurgence is greater and is country-wide.
Marsh points out that there had been a perception, at the time of the local and European election results, that most of the Fianna Fáil defectors had moved to Sinn Féin. This, he argues, could have been because most of those doing the perceiving were focused on Dublin rather than countrywide.”
“Far from ensuring a continuation in power by cosying up to Sinn Féin, as some commentators have suggested, Fianna Fáil would be undermining much of its middle class support. It would be wiser for Fianna Fáil to definitively ruled out the prospect of coalition with Sinn Féin for at least the lifetime of the next Dáil.”
And if anyone was thinking of decrying those “middle-class” voters, they should keep in mind that those voters are also crucial to Sinn Féin’s election strategy.