Good analysis (subs needed) from one of the Republic’s leading public psephologist, Noel Whelan, who notes that few, if any, of the party’s seats are safe and one or two look almost certain to go. The primary danger lies in the expected resurgence of Fine Gael after an extremely low point in 2002. Perhaps that’s why its voters were the first target in McDowell’s first press statement as leader. My own suspicion is that a noteably successful outcome from Harney’s time in health could be the key to finding a bounce in the party’s fortunes, and deflect criticism that the party is little other than a small group of Thatcherite fundamentalists. For all that they are almost universally reviled on the left, the PDs have the distinction of being a government party still more focused on policy issues, than of personality. Visible improvements in a health infrastructure that, reputedly has been a ministerial poisoned chalice for all of he FF predecessors, could act as a sober foil to McDowell’s flambuoyant leadership style
A style which most would accept will certainly get the party noticed again, in a way that the industrious and modest Harney couldn’t.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty