Republic’s election could be skin tight

Stephen Coleman has been warning for a few weeks now that despite bouyant polling figures for the Republic’s government, they will need to score every bit as well as current polling figures indicate, plus the full extent of the Bertie factor on lower preference transfers before the status quo can be maintained. Today he has some intriguing permutations (subs needed) if they don’t come up to the mark.Firstly the Greens:

One option would be to bring the Greens into government as part of a three-party coalition. Given the emphasis of the Greens on carbon taxes that might prove difficult but it would not be impossible.

Fianna Fáil has already started to use some Green language and could certainly adapt itself to a moderate Green agenda. The PDs have also being playing up their Green credentials with Dún Laoghaire TD Fiona O’Malley laying heavy stress on alternative energy.

Everything would depend on the numbers and whether the Greens wanted to pursue a straightforward environmental agenda or a more aggressive anti-globalisation policy that would make it impossible to work with the other parties.

He doesn’t rate Labour’s capacity to easily get over its current nailed to the door cohabitational commitment to Enda Kenny and Fine Gael. And that could be Sinn Fein’s opportunity An option that:

…the Taoiseach has ruled out but which the Tánaiste, Michael McDowell, clearly believes is a real possibility. There is little likelihood of Sinn Féin joining a Fianna Fáil-led coalition but every prospect of the party voting tactically to make Mr Ahern taoiseach, in the event of a hung Dáil.

  • Glensman

    Just like to make the point that Sinn Féin cannot enter into any coalition government with anyone without a Special Árd Fhéis… So really all this talk of will they wont they and will Bertie change his mind is irrelevant…
    However the leadership would be able to ‘vote tactically’ as this is not provided for in the party constitution.

  • George

    There isn’t a hope in hell of Bertie going into a coalition with SF. It simply isn’t going to happen, regardless of the permutations.

    It would be political suicide for FF to go into power with SF.

    McDowell will of course play up the possibility of SF in government because that is even more scary to the southern electorate than FF ruling with an overall majority.

  • parcifal

    I wouldn’t be too certain. If SF endorse policing it may well get an enormous amount of votes and 2nd preferences, particularly as its campaign won’t be bogged down by let’s say (negative capability) to use a keatsian term.
    Awakening the soul of Ireland in a big vote for re-unification. Got to happen one day.

  • CS Parnell

    Think George is right on this one. But we shouldn’t forget that the SF-in-government-in-the-South is a big deal up North with Nationalist voters.

  • CS Parnell

    parcifal – it has happened before. It was called the Anti-Partition League and it was a total waste of time because it said nothing to the people who oppose reunification – the Unionists. Do you think the avergae bear in Ballymena gives a flying one what some voter in Dingle does? Thanks to the mindset of 80+ years of partition they don’t even see themselves as Irish in the way that Carson would have.

    This is SF politics all over – inwardly focussed and backward looking.

  • Glensman

    As i tried to point out in my first comment, everyone is talking about whether FF would have a coalition with SF, who ever said that SF would share with FF?
    Any coalition deal would ahve to be passed by a 2 thirds majority, the leadership would not be likely to receive this, also members might see the 26 county structures as underdeveloped and so not fit to manage power.

  • George

    it isn’t going to happen in 2007. There isn’t a chance of SF being in power. I would wager any amount.

    As for unification, the southern electorate don’t want it if it means SF, as it is currently constituted and with its current policies, at the helm.

    That would be as scary a prospect to the people of the Irish Republic as it would be to unionists.

    That’s the political reality. SF has come a long way in the minds of many in the Republic but not far enough.

    Also, this was a journey they should have made a long time ago and the fact they are still making it is hardly reassuring to people when they consider who they want in power.

    Remember, they would have real power if they were part of the government and one look at the Ogra Sinn Fein website (make Zionism History is hardly an election issue in the Republic) or one mention of SF TDs still refusing to condemn the killing of Garda McCabe is enough.

    That’s before talks of raising corporation tax etc.

    You would have FF and FG going into coalition to prevent the event of SF in government.

  • Fianna Fail is well ahead of all the other parties, That situtation is the likely reality, given that, the surplus in public funds ahead of the Budget will copper-fasten Bertie’s power grip in the Republic. On the suggestion of who will be likey coalition partners I think its doubtful if any other party other than the Progressive Democrats would even be considered. Trevor Sargent, The Green Party, has recently been critical of Fianna Fails leadership. As for Shin Fein – most unlikely, two parties who’s claim to prominence as the real, Republican Party?.

  • parcifal

    SF didn’t create the border.
    look romantic ireland’s not dead and gone, its under the groaning weight of pies and fine wines in yuppie south.
    Northern Republicans were abandoned by the South, that’s a fact. But you reap what you sow.

    George I did say that when the policing issue is sorted there’ll be a freshness and ease in the air, the debate can be restarted on unification.

    Not sure which section of the population you speak for when you say the south ain’t interested.
    notwithstanding the fact that a good orator could tap into that collective unconscious anyway!

  • If SF endorse policing it may well get an enormous amount of votes and 2nd preferences, particularly as its campaign won’t be bogged down by let’s say (negative capability) to use a keatsian term.

    The same thing was said once they decommissioned their weapons. (Alot bigger issue in Ireland then policing) Yet they have gone backwards in the polls since then. They are never going to be a big party in the south. Due to history and indeed policies.

  • George

    “Not sure which section of the population you speak for when you say the south ain’t interested.”

    I’m speaking about the 90+% of the electorate who don’t vote for Sinn Fein in Dail elections.

    The south is interested in unity by consent, building a more prosperous and peaceful Ireland. It isn’t interested in unification through victory of one tradition over another or unification if it means SF, as it is currently constituted and with its current policies, at the helm.

    It isn’t interested in the “IRA Undefeated Army” version of history.

    “notwithstanding the fact that a good orator could tap into that collective unconscious anyway!”

    A good orator won’t tap into the collective unconscious of the Irish Republic by an unqualified veneration of the Provisional IRA.

    “I did say that when the policing issue is sorted there’ll be a freshness and ease in the air, the debate can be restarted on unification.”

    Freshness maybe but it won’t be any motor towards unification, not in the short term at any rate.

    I probably differ from you in that I think the Republic will have to be the major motor of change that brings about any unification of this island.

    After all, it does make up over 70% of the island’s population.

    Currently, the Republic is very cautious in its dealings. Maybe as the memories of violence ebb into the past, this will change.

  • parcifal

    not victory but reconciliation, as in a marriage.
    By consent.
    I appreciate your realism simon and george; and would hope deep down in your hearts you’d like to see the orange and green come together as one,
    a sorta love-thing not a hate-thing.

    “For a thing of beauty is a joy forever.” J.Keats

  • ronan o donnell

    SF now at 7% in the south are polling LOWER than in 2002. This is significant – they have had almost more publicity than any other party this past few months since ST Andrews and still they fall.

    Policing has no resonance in the south. The argument is not known or relevent to more that 5-10% of the population. SF can join policing in the morning. Noone will notice. Just as noone really noticed decomissioning. People have moved on.

    It would damage FF hugely to enter any form of coalition arrangement with SF. The FF parliamentary party simply wouldnt go for it. It would damage FF hugely. its not a possibility.

    SF are going the same way as the workers party did in the south.

  • parcifal, “SF didn’t create the border”, on that we are agreed. The Border was created by British officials sitting at, Whitehall London, by drawing lines on a map without the democratic mandate of the people of Ireland. But on the romantic Ireland aspect, thats another matter. “Under the groaning weight of pies and fine wines” Absolutly not. Nearly ninety years after an imposed partician of the country there are still those of us who believe in the unity of green and orange as in the articles of foundation of the United Irishmen at Cavehill. The founding principles of Theobald Wolfe Tone and Henry Joy McCracken are still the cornerstone and principle of a non-violent true Republicanism for the greater good of all.

  • confused

    SF had more support in Ireland 80 years ago.They will never regain that popularity and have brought the name of Republicianism into the gutter for which Irish people will not forgive them.

  • parcifal

    good rendition, I hope I’m wrong about the pies and wine,and complacency; as otherwise it smacks of: we’re alright down South, screw yous up North (who’ve had to endure the brunt of it.)
    That attitude can’t be right at all, the North needs help. Glad your on-board, but who will you vote for that’ll bring in a greater all-ireland dimension?

  • kensei

    “The founding principles of Theobald Wolfe Tone and Henry Joy McCracken are still the cornerstone and principle of a non-violent true Republicanism for the greater good of all.”

    Sure, but just one thing – United Irishmen? Non violent?

  • George

    it’s not we’re alright Jack although that plays a part.

    The big problem is that the Provos have zero cache south of the border. Without going into all the death and slaughter, they are a group who refused to recognise the Irish state and by association refused to recognise the will of the Irish (Republic of) people. The population of the Irish Republic is very aware of this fact.

    Sinn Fein is in a quandary. To become fully accepted in the Republic they have to divorce themselves from the Provos just like De Valera divorced himself from the IRAa, culminating in his government banning the organisation.

    Until that day arrives, Sinn Fein won’t get a sniff of government in Ireland (Republic of).

    That is the hard truth of constitutional Irish republicanism.

    I don’t know when SF will be far enough down whatever road it is travelling to cross this rubicon but when it is, then, and only then will it be considered fit for government in the Irish Republic.

    But when it does, then we will have a greater all-Ireland dimension, in my view.

  • ronan o donnell

    George, Confused etc.

    The current constitutional republican stance was set out two weeks ago by Dermot ahern and was the matter of some debate over at – its worth quoting if only for the extent to which it shows that SF are just not part of the constitutional republican picture.

    Ive pasted the bits re unity etc from the ff website.

    “As an Irish Republican my main personal and political goal is to live to see the unity of Ireland.

    It always seemed wrong to me that Irish men and women from my neighboring towns – in places like Drumintee or Culloville – should live in another State.

    It has always seemed equally wrong to me that the unity of North and South could ever be achieved through violence.

    Because I have always been clear that the unity of Irish people is as important as the unity of Irish territory.

    And that’s why our stated primary aim is to “Secure in Peace and Agreement the Unity of Ireland and its People.”

    Our project held, and still holds that unity by armed force would – at best – transfer Nationalist isolation and alienation onto unionists.

    At worst it would threaten the lives of tens of thousands of fellow Irish men and women.

    That’s why we have worked so hard on the peace process.That’s why we set out to bring all strands of nationalist Ireland to this peaceful, constitutional republican perspective.And today, we have lead all but the dissident fringe of nationalism from the violence which embedded partition and deepened sectarian divisions on our Island.

    In the first act of all-Ireland self-determination since 1918 – the 1998 referendum on the Good Friday Agreement – the Irish people supported our constitutional republican argument.

    The Agreement was a profound victory for constitutional republicanism.

    In backing the Agreement the Irish people rejected violence with an overwhelming voice.A voice which nobody claiming to be of the republican tradition could ignore.

    The Irish People backed the principle of consent, in a move which has profound consequences for all strands of Irish republicanism.

    It means that, in Republican terms, there is now clearly one single path to Irish unity.

    It is the peaceful convincing of unionism that their interests are best served within the context of a United Ireland. It is the rejection of coercion.

    To that end Republicans must oppose all acts which polarise the two communities.All acts which seek to bolster division between the two communities.All efforts to consciously create a political narrative of nationalist versus unionist.Or Irish versus British.Or Catholic versus Protestant.

    In place of division we need a joint attack on issues ofPovertyExclusionInequalitySectarianism.Wherever and in whatever community they are found.”

  • Oilibhear Chromaill

    Stephen Colllins I presume.

    The problem with opinion polls is that SF polls considerably less in them than they do in General Elections and, secondly, the fact is that most elections are fought on local issues so it’s wiser to focus more on constituency polls that are being carried out by TG4/The Week In Politics than the national ones which seem to be Dublin centric. Perhaps the pollsters are spending too much time in Dundrum Shopping Centre…..

  • aquifer

    Would the Greens join up with a party who sold the country to housing developers for brown envelopes?

  • CS Parnell (accept no imitations)


    On point of historical fact while SF may not have wanted the border they did agree to it. The civil war was fought over the Oath and not partition as the “republican” side also accepted the inevitibility of partition as a temporary measure.

    Indeed the men of 1916 explicitly rejected the ideas of my party that Irish unity was more important than Irish independence. They made a quite explicit decision to reject devolution through Home Rule and a united Ireland to strike out for independence knowing it would more or less forever close the door on getting the prods on board.

    We’re still living with the consequences. In the South (eventually) it was a run away success in all aspects except for the language. In the North it always was a disaster.

  • ronan o donnell


    Your argument holds no water.

    The problem with SF polling less in opinion polls than in the actual electon does not hold in the south – its a northern thing.

    In the 2002 election SF were polling about 8% in the polls immediately before the election but only got 6.5% in the election itself.

    So on the current 7% poll SF would actually lose seats.

  • parcifal

    Time has indeed told the story that unity of the people is a pre-cursor to unity of territory.

    Its impossible to divorce yourself from what you were created out of. IRA – Sinn Fein.
    But what you can do is transfrom yourself from caterpillar to butterfly, which is my constant refrain for SF.
    Under those circumstances you’d be right in saying then we will have a greater all-ireland dimension.

  • lib2016


    Your point would be legitimate if SF had run in every constituency. Sinn Fein’s strategy is to target seats where they believe they have a chance or where they are grooming candidates for the future. Many supporters simply don’t have an opportunity to vote for them.

    The important question is whether they can continue to find a steady stream of young candidates. So far they have done so.

  • medja

    The problem with SF is preferences, You either vote Sinn Fein or you don’t and that’s not going to change this time around. Look at the PD’s. It’s the vital 4 and 5 preferences that got them 8 seats last time around.

    Down in the south most people who don’t put SF on top of the ticket won’t touch them in any circumstances.

    I know several people who gave everyone a preference except SF and some of them would be Very pro 32 County Ireland.

  • kadenza

    Medja, is correct.

    Nicky Kehoe did not get elected in 2002 because too many people had voted all the way down the ticket and voted everyone but SF.

    This sort of hostile voting will lessen in 2007 but I would think that SF will still not garner that much transfers. The candidates most likely to be affected will those in the five seaters with a fighting chance such as Wexford and Mayo.