Phil, a guest blogger at the Dreaming Arm blog, has good analysis and some interesting responses on Sinn Fein’s poor show in the Republic’s election in May. He argues that the battle-a-day scenario once promised us would not serve to strengthen the party’s appeal in the south, and any overt action to destabilise the settlement would similarly erode its image as a credible political creature.He concludes:
Sinn Féin, if it is to retain its position as the leading nationalist party in the north (quite apart from preventing its complete political annihilation in the South) will have to respond and adapt to the new social and economic realities which will face it with greater urgency over the next decade. Whether they are capable of pulling this off, or whether they will be met with the further challenge of a reinvigorated SDLP in the future are currently matters of conjecture.
It’s probably worth noting this comment from ‘anonymous’ too:
…one factor that should be pointed out is that Sinn Fein did not contest the Irish election in any way that posed a serious threat of meaningful engagement with either the Irish electorate or the main policy issues of the election. Therefore your argument that there was a pre-election perception on behalf of the Irish electorate that Sinn Fein was a ‘Northern’ party and that this perception was the reason for their failure is perhaps correct, but the electorate’s perception was probably dramatically strengthened by Sinn Fein themselves.
…I’m not convinced that they are destined to suffer poor performances in the South based on their activities being primarily Northern Irish, but just that they need to develop as a party to pose a challenge. Of course you may say that this would be a ‘new’ Sinn Fein and so any future success this ‘new’ party would have wouldn’t fall outside your thesis, but I believe you can’t ignore the fact that their campaign was a shambles.