Voting too tight to mention, Sinn Fein?

Front page of the Irish Times today touches on the vexed issue of Sinn Fein (for everyone, but Sinn Fein that is)… You can just smell the hidden agendas…

,

  • Its amazing how much time and effort the parties are devoting into this ‘nightmare’ scenario…!

    Fianna Fail would sell their Grannies to the devil to stay in power, so it does’nt matter what Bertie says really…

  • Ian

    This may seem like a very silly question – but sometimes it takes an outsider like myself to put forward a new idea or perspective – why in all the acres of coverage and the assorted bookies’ odds is there no hint of a notion that Fianna Fail might consider going into coalition with Fine Gael?

  • Mick Fealty

    Whatever happens in this election, Kenny will have brought his party back from its deathbed. It’s still not clear what they stand for, but then outside the PDs and the Greens it really is not clear what any of the parties stand for. Considering how long and how hard he has worked to get them back within striking distance it would be political suicide to throw it away on a grand alliance ala Germany.

  • kensei

    With polls showing 50% don’t care, is scaremongering in this fashion really going to fly like once did?

  • Ian

    Mick, I wasn’t suggesting that FG would accept such an advance by FF (as you suggest, they may benefit from another term in opposition against a weakened FF – the same may apply to SF this time round as well of course).

    However, everyone keeps going on about how “Fianna Fail would sell their Grannies to the devil to stay in power”, so why have none of the analysts considered the possibility that FF would consider a coalition with FG before a coalition with SF? Surely their policies are closer to FG than to SF? And animosities from the 1920’s surely run just as deep between FF and SF as between FF and FG?

  • SuperSoupy

    Mick,

    I would wait until Friday/Sat before declaring Kenny a winner.

    In 1997 they had 27.9% in 2002 22.5%, they are currently polling not much above that figure. And there has been no sign of growth from the 2004 European election figure of 27.8%.

    Unless they get well above their current 32 TDs and form a government it’s a failure and curtains for Enda.

  • George

    Ian,
    because it would mean the death knell of one of the two parties. FG and FF aren’t going to play that game. There will always be another deal on the table with so many independents and smaller parties milling about.

    Macswiney,
    there isn’t a hope in hell of Sinn Féin being in power after this election.

    Kensei,
    surveys are different to the reality on the ground or when the decision actually has to be made. And even if the survey was the reality it’s the 50% who do care that matter because they really care about this issue. It would be a “vote Chirac or Le Pen” moment for southern Irish politics.

    Sinn Féin are on the road to people not caring or if they do care not fearing (yes fearing) but this is most definitely an election too early for them in the fear stakes. Don’t forget the IRA doesn’t recognise Dáil Éireann and Sinn Féin still feel a need to praise and defend this organisation.

    That may work with their electorate up north but down south it is a big turnoff. Sinn Féin have to be associated with their policies rather than their history before they are considered coalition material.

    At the moment, for the wider general public, they are still mostly associated with their history.

    Mick,
    the party will not be back from its deathbed if it doesn’t recover in Dublin. Getting back to where they were 10 years ago by going up a few per cent but still terminally weak in Dublin means only that they might have halted the decline temporarily, not reversed it.

    Dublin is where we have to watch the FG vote.

  • Mick Fealty

    Soupy,

    Did I tip him to win? I blogged Richard Waghorne’s take on the price he may have to pay for failing to win. But if he gets the party back to within striking distance, what’s in it for him/FG to go into a grand coalition with FF?

  • SuperSoupy

    Mick,

    Didn’t mean ‘winner’ as in forming a government. I thought your prediction of a revival a little premature and even striking distance could be well outside his reach on current polling.

    You can’t call this one until the votes are in it just isn’t possible.

    As for the grand coalition option, I can’t see anyone wanting it. We could be heading for a situation like 81/82 where the numbers are so close nothing stable will be possible.

    Interesting days ahead. I’ve already stocked up for the long haul on Friday night.

  • George

    For my northern brethren, regardless of how the vote turns out –

    The first rule of southern politics is: you will not see a FG/FF grand coalition

    The second rule of southern politics is: you will not see a FG/FF grand coalition

  • SuperSoupy

    How do people feel about the moratorium on media coverage for the 24hrs ahead of polling?

    Worth introducing here? Many other countries already have this period of reflection even going as far as stopping canvassing. Or outdated with the internet?

  • Yokel

    And Dublin is where the polls show the most gain for Fine Gael so far, at least in percentage points.

    To back up George I would be confident that there would be no Sinn Fein minister anywhere in government of the South after this election. Having said that the ‘we can’t stop SF supporting us in votes’ idea has been mooted before and Ahern raising it again is either/and because

    a) he’s serious and he;s looking SF transfers
    b) he’s trying to explain to counter the opposition scare story
    c) Hes completely mistimed his statement

    Others in Fianna Fail have made it clear they wouldnt touch SF with a barge poll and would go into opposition rather than have any dependency on SF in any way. They are still pariahs amongst large swathes of the other political parties down there.

  • kensei

    “To back up George I would be confident that there would be no Sinn Fein minister anywhere in government of the South after this election.”

    So would I, but that would be because I don’t believe the numbers will fall to make it an option.

    “Others in Fianna Fail have made it clear they wouldnt touch SF with a barge poll and would go into opposition rather than have any dependency on SF in any way. They are still pariahs amongst large swathes of the other political parties down there.”

    Principle? In Fianna Fail?

    I don’t think George is right on this one. It’s early but there have been some significant moves forward that means the language from the other parties has already soften a bit. If the numbers did fall and FF-SF had enough for a stable government, then I think the issue would burn out fairly quickly. Would members of FF really commit the electoral suicide by collapsing it after FF went in? It would be 5 years before another general election, and if SF were in the government for 5 years, it couldn’t have the same force at the same election. I think a confidence or support arrangement is much more unstable and much more likely to cause trouble for FF.

  • Oilibhear Chromaill

    Others in Fianna Fail have made it clear they wouldnt touch SF with a barge poll and would go into opposition rather than have any dependency on SF in any way

    Since when did anybody with any serious interest in politics take what FF says seriously on this issue.

    FF in 1982 shared power with SF The Workers Party, at a time when that party was (and still is) inextricably linked to the Official IRA, a paramilitary organisation which, at that time or since, had not put a single weapon beyond use. Many of those SF The Worker’s Party people are now in the Labou r Party. This includes the leader and deputy leader!

    And then, in 1989, just four years after the greatest treason in the history of FF when Des O’Malley, Bobby Molloy, Pearse Wyse and others deserted to form FG with Mary Harney and Michael McDowell, they ditched a ‘core principle’, that is they went into coalition government with Des O’Malley!

    FF ministers would prefer to go into opposition than into a government reliant on SF. Hello?

  • Tochais Síoraí

    A FF/SF govt isn’t going to happen but that’s not going to stop FG and Lab playing ‘the FF dependent on SF for support card’ for everything it’s worth.

    (FF & SFWP sharing power OC??? Never happened)

  • SuperSoupy

    TS,

    Power sharing may be too strong a term but they did rely on Tomás Mac Giolla and SFWP to form a government in 82 and they were the ones who brought it down shortly after.

  • George

    Kensei,
    just because people in the Republic are glad that Sinn Féin are now wedded to the democratic process it doesn’t mean they want them in government.

    True the language has softened but this is still at least one election too early for SF to be in power and the parties, if not the electorate, will make sure it doesn’t come to pass. Perhaps the Greens also approaching 10 seats?

    Sure SF will get maybe 10% but the other 90% will be expected to do a deal amongst themselves this time around.

    We could even have something akin to the PDs getting the late bounce to prevent a FF overall majority to ensure SF aren’t the kingmakers.

    There is nothing to be gained from FF going into power with SF when they could get the same numbers from Greens and independents for example.

    If that’s not possible, they would also ask Labour and if Labour refused, Bertie would simply go back to the electorate.

    There are no votes for any party in going into power with Sinn Féin this time around.

    You may question FF’s principles but they aren’t stupid.

    Oilibhear,
    the 1982 SF Workers’ Party supporting the minority Fianna Fáil government without actually being in it would be the same as Sinn Féin voting in Ahern this time. The government lasted six months in 1982 with Fianna Fáil losing six seats and FG gaining seven. The same would happen again.

    Better to go straight back to the electorate.

  • Keyser Söze

    Dont’t really think SF should be going into govt anyways. Better to build the party up for next time round to go in hard and strong. Much tougher to do this while in power. A bigger mandate this time would allow them to apply pressure on the all-ireland agenda (ie. force FF to look closely at it and work all-ireland links in bid to still be see somewhat as a republican party). SF would do this without having to get tangled up in all the other trappings of govt.

  • kensei

    “True the language has softened but this is still at least one election too early for SF to be in power and the parties, if not the electorate, will make sure it doesn’t come to pass. Perhaps the Greens also approaching 10 seats?”

    It has been noticeable that FF have only raised policy matters as a barrier to government. They are doing that because it has a get out that cordite doesn’t.

    “Sure SF will get maybe 10% but the other 90% will be expected to do a deal amongst themselves this time around.”

    You could apply that logic, to the Greens, or Labour. I don’t think it stacks up in itself.

    “We could even have something akin to the PDs getting the late bounce to prevent a FF overall majority to ensure SF aren’t the kingmakers.

    There is nothing to be gained from FF going into power with SF when they could get the same numbers from Greens and independents for example.”

    I think the numbers won’t fall and the Greens and Independents will probably be the preferred options. But if they don’t, or the Greens tie themselves to an alternative coalition, then there is something to gained.

    “If that’s not possible, they would also ask Labour and if Labour refused, Bertie would simply go back to the electorate.”

    This I can’t see. It’s a risky option, and if SF and FF have numbers for a stable majority – then I don’t see how pushing SF as the bogeymen can be sustained for 5 years. There is no guarantee you wouldn’t end up in the same spot, anyway.

    “There are no votes for any party in going into power with Sinn Féin this time around.

    You may question FF’s principles but they aren’t stupid. ”

    There are no votes in it, and it might lose votes in some quarters which is why no one is saying it. But we are talking about a situation where the votes have already been cast.

  • Ian

    “If that’s not possible, they would also ask Labour and if Labour refused, Bertie would simply go back to the electorate.”

    “This I can’t see. It’s a risky option, and if SF and FF have numbers for a stable majority – then I don’t see how pushing SF as the bogeymen can be sustained for 5 years. There is no guarantee you wouldn’t end up in the same spot, anyway.”

    Since SF are so good at playing the victim card, there’s every chance that they would end up with a further increased mandate.

    After SF and the DUP ended up as top dogs in the North’s 2003 Assembly elections, some commentators suggested a series of polls every 6 weeks until the voters “got it right”. This was rightly dismissed as displaying contempt for the choices of the electorate.

    “Don’t really think SF should be going into govt anyways. Better to build the party up for next time round to go in hard and strong. Much tougher to do this while in power. A bigger mandate this time would allow them to apply pressure on the all-ireland agenda.”

    One of their strategic aims will be to use their increased number of TD’s to get the next southern Government to honour their side of the Good Friday Agreement, i.e. allow northern nationalists to have a say in the affairs in the Republic, via Assembly members gaining speaking rights in the Dail and northern voters being able to vote for the Irish President.

  • Oilibhear Chromaill

    Myself, I think it’s a false argument and a scare tactic by the PDs and their fellow travellers in the Irish Times, the closest thing to a party propoganda sheet which is being published in Ireland today. I don’t think, for instance,that Fianna Fáil will win enough seats to make a coalition with SF possible or workable. And I don’t think that Sinn Féin should go into government. Better spend the next five years building a cohesive alternative (that is a REAL alternative) opposition to contest the 2012 election. My concern is that Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil, being too power hungry political animals, will throw in their lot together and the only chance of a decent radical alternative to the status quo will have been lost forever. SF should do well to remember what happened to Labour. When that party won its greatest ever amount of seats in 1992, it swallowed the FF bait and went in with them. At that stage Labour had 30 odd seats. Now it’s languishing in the low 20s and nobody’s predicting any improvement on that position in the coming poll. They could have been a contender, they could have been ahead of Fine Gael by now and we could have had the realignment of Irish politics which would really have broken the mould.

  • George

    Kensei,
    It has been noticeable that FF have only raised policy matters as a barrier to government. They are doing that because it has a get out that cordite doesn’t.

    That’s because the new dispensation in Irish politics has already started with the deal on May 8th. That is why the government are only raising policy matters. This is a democracy and if Sinn Féin are now democrats there can be no bar to office.

    But the difference south of the border is that any coalition will be voluntary rather than mandatory. As I said while people in the Republic welcome Sinn Féin’s current route this election is simply too early.

    This I can’t see. It’s a risky option, and if SF and FF have numbers for a stable majority – then I don’t see how pushing SF as the bogeymen can be sustained for 5 years. There is no guarantee you wouldn’t end up in the same spot, anyway.

    No guarantees in politics, that’s true and I don’t see Sinn Féin being the bogeymen in five years if things continue as they are but five years is a long time in politics so better to see how things pan out first before inviting SF into the inner sanctum, so to speak.
    Could you imagine the reaction of the Gardaí to Sinn Féin’s Aengus O’Snodaigh having the Justice portfolio, for example, when they are supporting the release of the killers of Garda McCabe?

    That is just one example.

    In five years, a lot of water will have gone under the bridge and SF might have their shopping list clearly laid out.

    By the way, I agree with Olibhear in that I don’t think there are votes in it for Sinn Féin either.

  • páid

    Ian,

    for info….(1997)abridged

    An Irishman’s Diary
    By KEVIN MYERS

    It is surely one of the curiously neglected truths of Irish life that the Anglo-Norman caste retained a covert identity and power not merely into this century, but into the present day. The popular memory does not actually record the history of this caste, instead labelling those who are inclined to belong to it either Fine Gaelers or Blueshirts or ranchers; and the complex history of this caste from the 17th century, and the racial and almost racist obsessions of the Gaelic revival a century ago, have made the origins of this distinct group within Irish life both obscure and unfashionable – hence the name, Fine Gael.

    It is unlikely Fine Normanach would have the same appeal; but it would be a more accurate description of the caste, which has retained a culture of aloofness, of apartness and a certain inalienable right to land and law. Since the caste was not racially-based, it was able to assimilate Gaels into its ranks; likewise, Anglo-Normans became assimilated into gaeldom. But we know from the Confederation of Kilkenny that the two distinct groups remained identifiable in language, culture and social organisation. What they had in common were propinquity and creed: what divided them was a sense of self.

    Self-confident tribe

    To be Norman – or Fine Gael – does not necessarily mean posh and tweedy. But it probably does have implications for myth and lore. Such families would not have invoked Gaelic mythology as their own; Cuchulain was absent from the hearth-side yarns of Plunketts and Dillons and Bourkes. They would have learnt of recusant priests, of dispossession, of membership of an ancient tribe that was loftier by far than the base Cromwellian NCOs who with their bogus titles, fraudulent airs and their heretical creed were the reconstructed gentry of 18th century Ireland.

    A conservative caste

    Such a caste was of necessity deeply conservative. It retained its position within Irish life with jealous ardour. Its rural members were strong farmers. Its sons entered the professions and the church, the civil service and the British army. It had a view of the world which was both conditioned by its caste-disdain for the Gaelic majority (who were in time to call themselves Fianna Fail) and by the separate, un-Gaelic mentality of their hiberno-anglo-norman culture.

    We know today that he Fianna Fail mind is quite unlike the Fine Gael mind, without being able to put our finger on the difference. That is why our political parties are curiously resistant to apostasy. Fianna Fail cannot convert to Fine Gael, nor vice versa.

    It is not ideology which divides in Irish life, but mind and identity; confusingly, that identity does not call itself by what it is, but instead invokes heroes. Fine Gael’s traditional hero is largely accidental and one most modern Fine Gaelers feel a little uncomfortable with: Michael Collins, whose life and death were marked last weekend in the largely mythic terms necessary for such occasions. Of course, at the commemorations at Beal na mBlath Sean Donlon did not say that Michael Collins was the man who introduced into Irish life the organised slaughter of unarmed men in front of their families, nor did he recall, as cited by Tim Pat Coogan, the 1922 pact “with the IRA to use force against the Northern Parliament in flagrant breach of the Treaty he was so desperately trying to uphold in the Provisional Government area.”

    Other, more suitable aspects of Collins were cited in accordance with current Fine Gael requirements: Collins the statesman, Collins the soldier, Collins the peacemaker, etc etc etc. This is merely myth-making. Fine Gaelers need the pol. cred. of a Collins-type figure, without the stark reality of what Collins did, which is deeply unFine Gael. Therefore launder and invent.

    An accident of history

    We know it was an accident of history which caused Collins to be Fine Gael.

    These individuals do not count. They are the accidents of history. Both Fine Gael and Fianna Fail are parties of the tribe, the larger tribe of course providing the larger party. The last three Fianna Fail leaders – Lynch, Haughey and Ahern have Gaelic names (though Lynch can admittedly also be Norman). Fine Gael is still a family affair rooted in the Cosgrave-Fitzgerald-Costello-Bruton dynasties, of which three are of Anglo-Norman origin. Not, I suspect, a coincidence.

  • kensei

    “But the difference south of the border is that any coalition will be voluntary rather than mandatory. As I said while people in the Republic welcome Sinn Féin’s current route this election is simply too early.”

    It’s voluntary? No shit! Please, George.

    The thing is, the people select their representatives. The representatives choose the coalition partners. If the people give SF enough electoral strength to be a serious player in coalition talk, then they will be.

    Would it be damaging if FF went in with SF and called an election within 6 months? Sure. If the government is stable and it’s going to be 5 years. Probably not going to be major issue by then.

    “Could you imagine the reaction of the Gardaí to Sinn Féin’s Aengus O’Snodaigh having the Justice portfolio, for example, when they are supporting the release of the killers of Garda McCabe?”

    Is it enough to take down the government on an issue FF is unlikely to budge on? Doubt it. Would SF have the justice portfolio? Highly unlikely. SF have been distancing themselves recently anyway.

    “By the way, I agree with Olibhear in that I don’t think there are votes in it for Sinn Féin either.”

    I tend to agree. It could hobble their potential growth next time round. But it might be of longer term strategic advantage to have ministers in Government North and South and shape policy in this period, and SF like the long game. There is also the allure of power. So I think there is an amount of realpolitik you are missing.

    I don’t think he will happen. i just fancy that thos etaht say it can’t happen are naive.