And they’re off (well, they’re under starters orders…)

Ballot BoxSo the 2011 Irish General Election (or #ge11) has just got closer as the Greens withdraw from the government; As Colm Tobin (the other one) puts it, it’s “the equivalent of Bin Laden sprinting towards the Twin Towers with a fire extinguisher.”

So instead of a March election, it’s starting to look like a date in February. And what do the bookies think about the outcome now?

The markets are unusually interesting for broad election outcomes as there are a number of areas where we appear to have entered terra incognita. Theres a fair bit of certainty around the big outcomes – for instance, Betfair’s markets show a 9/1 on racing certainty on a Fine Gael / Labour coalition while Paddy Power are offering 16/1 on (the same odds that they’re offering on Enda Kenny as next Taoiseach. But on the question of Fianna Fáil’s final number of seats, Paddy Power is offering only a slight hint that they’re favouring a number between 31 and 40 while Betfair’s markets are still adjusting at the time of writing.

The more interesting early markets include the (Betfair) total number of Sinn Féin seats (one showing some considerable uncertainty at this stage, but the interesting thing about Betfair is that Slugger’s readers could make the market fairly quickly) compared to Paddy Power’s equivalent that leans towards SF getting into the 11-16 seat range.

Either way, there are better readers of betting markets than me, but I’ve set up an affiliate account with Betfair and Slugger will get a few pennies towards the site’s not-inconsiderable hosting costs if you bet using any of the Betfair links in this post, so please feel free to go and make the markets on this one. For me, there are two talking points here:

  1. How reliable are the bookies instincts here given the unusual circumstances of this election?
  2. If the bookies are right, 30-40 Fianna Fáil TDs won’t be the end of the world for them, will it? And what will a poor showing for Sinn Féin in what really must be a now-or-never moment mean for the party?

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