Pressure on Cowen mounts, as the case is made for an election

Now that the depth of Anglo’s pit has been divined (though have AIB and Irish Nationwide been stress tested enough?) the Irish Economy blog makes a cogent case for a November election before the budget.

The question of whether the government had a mandate to introduce unpopular measures would disappear. And despite regular claims from journalists that the opposition are irresponsible and have no policies, both Fine Gael and Labour did produce plans last year detailing how they would implement a €4 billion adjustment. Likewise, I would have little doubt that they would be forced to provide multi-year plans to match the government’s and that the election debate would be dominated by the comparison of these plans.

However the case may be complicated by tomorrow’s poll in the Irish Times, showing that a whopping 61% want Biffo to be replaced as Taoiseach. This leaves Fianna Fail with the unenviable choice of a snap leadership election or a Lenihan coronation followed by a general election, a leadership election or coronation only, or doing nothing. I’d guess that unless a real head of steam is building, the odds favour the status quo for now. FF don’t need an election to settle the budget strategy. They have space until at least the middle of next year. So why  address the lesser issue of leadership now and risk annihilation at the polls,  before their chance of survival matures?

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London

donate to keep slugger lit