Sinn Fein’s gambit for the middle ground

Fascinating analysis of Sinn Fein’s capacity to transform its election prospects in the Republic from Where’s me country?

It all depends on how successful the party’s move to the center ground is and how much they are able to move their appeal across classes and interests. Remaining on the fringes, in terms of policy, was never going to win votes, however it is until such time as they commit to policing up north, and moderate some of their other policies that the change will really begin to kick in. Right now that seems unlikely but a year is a long time without an army.

That last [emphasis added] is a candidate for sound bite of the year!

  • Thanks for the recommendation, I think that the soundbite of the year nomination has made my own year!!
    cheers
    RR

  • James Campbell

    An excellent analysis. In a Northern context how will the SDLP be able to cope with a SF shift to the center. Have they got the desire or capability to move center-right?

  • I wonder what shape the SDLP must take in order to provide a coherent policy platform while catering for its core vote.
    In terms of *can* they, as a party that grew around the principle of civil rights and equality in society, there is a large scope in left-right terms for where they may eventually reside in the policy spectrum.
    Also there has never been a rule that all republicans, or nationalists, need be lefty types. Simple conviction to the prinicples of civil rights can withstand a shift toward center right while withstanding the more racist elements of the right.
    As competition to Sinn Fein the SDLP will need to redefine the principle of nationalism on its own terms, but with the departure of the IRA it needs to plant such a vision within a broader narrative, a more open and progressive narrative, for the north. A nationalism which is not exclusive and can offer economic prosperity and progress to voters.
    The success of the SDLP is predicated on a stable security environment.
    The SDLP thus far has seemed unsure of where to move while SF came right for them.
    *any northern analysis i do should be taken with a grain of salt, im only an ignorant southerner* ; )
    RR

  • Crataegus

    It is an interesting article and if SF are successful and increase from say 12% to even 15% it could have a significant impact on the overall result without a major gain of seats. The question is who looses votes? FF or Labour and Greens?

    If SF is trying to move into territory that has not traditionally been its home ground it could come under attack and we have seen recently that it is more than capable of making major mistakes. One of its greatest handicaps is its current TDs and the thoughts of them being quizzed on economics would worry any party chair person.

    They may get away with being screwed by the British, but if they look flaky on the Economy, Education or Health it will damage and I think Stormontgate is a turning point. They cannot afford many similar stories.

    It will be difficult enough for SF to move from its present support base and for a party used to advance lack of progress could in itself cause problems. If it moves to the centre it will inevitable loose some of its street support. I don’t see the party replacing FF or FG. It will sit at around 10 -15% for some time to come and given the skeletons it has in its filling cabinet it is not difficult to envisage possible reversals.

  • Brian Boru

    “It is an interesting article and if SF are successful and increase from say 12% to even 15% it could have a significant impact on the overall result without a major gain of seats. The question is who looses votes? FF or Labour and Greens?”

    On current trends all their voters seem to be former FF and DL supporters. DL merged with Labour and some of their traditional hardleft constituency may have migrated to SF.