Fianna Fáil’s smoking dope but not inhaling, sorry, I mean gaining an MLA but not really, has been at the back of my mind all day. In fact, it would have been at the front of my mind were it not for the fact that I had to write something on the Murphy Report.
I don’t think the move is insignificant. As I have written elsewhere, one might argue (and I do) that the move Northward post-settlement shows that Northern republicanism is now as hollow as its Southern compatriot. However, that’s not really what I want to talk about here. Instead, I would like to float the simple proposition that it shows Fianna Fáil is not in as bad a shape as people think – electorally speaking.
Undoubtedly, were there a general election today the Southern public would give the Republican Party the heave-ho. Support for the party is at an all time low. Indeed, writing in Irish Left Review, WorldByStorm notes that Fianna Fáil is trailing Fine Gael by thirteen points.
WorldByStorm goes on to say, with I suspect, no small amount of hope:
I was initially dubious about how much damage had been inflicted on Fianna Fáil, but the consistency of these figures and the fact they continue to decline reinforces a conclusion that this is an historic rupture in the Irish polity.
He could be right, but I’m not so sure myself. The fact that the party is, even at this dire time, able to continue expanding into territories new indicates that it is simply not possible for Fianna Fáil to be totally wiped-out. There will always be a core Fianna Fáil vote in Ireland, no matter how severely reduced it might be come the next round of polling.
Still, the transformation of Fianna Fáil from the natural party of government (albeit a party that became the natural party of government by usurping Cumann na nGaedhael) into a kind of rump party for conservative aboriginals would be a rather sorry end for the political machine that has dominate Irish life since the days of De Valera.