Lab + SF = FF + FG + 18.4%: #aras11 warm down

Presidential elections don’t tend to tear the space-time fabric of Irish politics. But as mood shifts, Mary Robinson and Mary McAleese both managed to encapsulate subtle moves away from the manichean nonsense of patrician Catholic ‘civil war’ politics south of the border. The soon to be returned 9th President, Michael D,  will happily cite them as examples of why any judgement on him should be deferred to hindsight. At least he won’t be burdened by the dire forecasts that the 8th President carried into office with her.

While you could argue the personalised nature of the election was amplified by the rolling media attention, that alone would at least signify a move of sorts away from traditional adherence to tribal voting that has seen multiple generations of families returning the same party to office and the related existence of political dynasties who were often elected with  reference to DNA rather than competence. The Dublin West by-election (see #dubw) seems likely, at 10 pm anyway, to formally mark the end of the Lenihan and O’Rourke representative dynasty with a complementary Labour win. That added chirpiness in the junior coalition partner may gently shade relations beyond some gritted teeth congratulations from Fine Gael who may be minded that their candidates well and truly tanked in both contests (and that at least one referendum may fail). Labour ministers have already fronted anti-government protests over cuts which will come in the December budget, to the irritation of senior Fine Gael figures.

The first victim may be Mick Wallace, the independent TD in Wexford who is in danger of being declared bankrupt in a theatre of operations in which Fine Gael may project a healthy, morale-boosting, mid-term by-election win for themselves.

As ever, Sinn Féin won’t really engage in a public conversation on the election results, but the rather stark equation in the thread title won’t be lost on any of the four largest parties. Labour, too, can’t fail to notice that the overall result is markedly different from anything that has been seen in a long time. I can’t imagine it would make the same senior Fine Gael figures any less irritated.

Who knows what Fianna Fáil can really take from this election. Gallagher’s vote suggests that much of the Fianna Fáil vote can be brought out as a block, although the experiment is still at one remove from actually proudly puffing out a FF, the republican party, badge on the candidate’s chest. In that regard, it still seems to represent a coherent interest group, but that coherency may still make it one that others may equally seek to pitch to (the Lenihan connection making Dublin West returns an equally hard read for the party’s strategists). At the same time, it was interesting to watch an ad hoc victimhood strategy being cobbled together [*raises eyebrow*] as the media finally warmed to discussion of the detail of Gallagher’s roles within Fianna Fáil rather than his carefully prepared youthwork/farmer/small business schtick. Maybe Fianna Fáil will seek to foment a sense of injustice for political leverage, but the relatively trivial nature of the complaint suggests it hasn’t much longevity.

Then again, official Fianna Fáil seems to have a limited sense of irony as they recently railed against the payment of a €700m unguaranteed Anglo-Irish Bank bond by the coalition next week. That Fine Gael may be lambasted and electorally punished for cleaning up Fianna Fáil’s mess may be one additional reminder they don’t want to get this week. If the element of the proposed deal that is intended to bailout some EU member state banks means that the ECB take the hit, rather than the Irish solution of local taxpayers, any memories of this Presidential election will recede very quickly.

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  • HeinzGuderian

    Well,YES.
    This ‘Sovereign Irish State’,we keep hearing about is hardly free from Foreign Influence,now is it ??

  • Publican

    “Maybe Fianna Fáil will seek to foment a sense of injustice for political leverage, but the relatively trivial nature of the complaint suggests it hasn’t much longevity.”

    It will never be stated in the party literature, but it will never be forgotten by the party faithful, who still have almost 10% more of the vote, and 5 seats, more than Sinn Fein. Looking forward to seeing the fireworks over the coming years.

  • Alias

    It’s not surprising that those formerly spouting the nonsense that Gallagher was the FF candidate now don’t want to follow their own logic and declare that FF came second.

  • Dixie Elliott

    I think it’s been a case of: We’ve let Marty drive under the influence….Of his own ego.

  • Jimmy Sands

    I don’t understand what the headline is driving at. Is it seriously being suggested that Gilmore is going to cosy up to the provos or is this just a crude attempt to coat tail on Labour’s triumph while glossing over Coco’s failure?

  • Dixie Elliott

    Now-a-days mention 1916 to McGuinness and he’ll think you’re talking about the time of the next flight to Washington.

  • keano10

    Interesting that Gallagher seems to be hinting at a career in politics. One wonders would he do so under the Fianna Fail umbrella or perhaps plough a lone furrow in a bid to take a seat as an Independant? He still polled very well despite all the controversy.

  • “Sinn Féin won’t really engage in a public conversation on the election results”

    I’ve just had a look at the recent Donegall South West results, John.

    Martin, the sluggish old war-horse, pulled in less than 9,000 votes compared with the younger more dynamic Pearse Doherty who picked up about 14,000 votes in the By- and General Elections. Any thoughts on this dramatic drop – assuming I’ve got my calculations right?

    Martin more or less held on to the 9,000 votes obtained by his colleague in his ‘home’ constituency, Donegal North East.

  • John Ó Néill

    Nevin – if you are to believe the opinion polls then SF are several points over McGuinness’s first preference so where did that go? Nor are Labour tipping 40% or FG 6%. So personal votes and local factors are at play, obviously. Donegal SW is part of that block vote that was for FF in the past. I made the point that it clearly can be brought out en masse by the right noises.

  • “it clearly can be brought out en masse by the right noises.”

    John, I presume the various party noises that were heard in DNE were also heard in neighbouring DSW so that doesn’t explain SF’s tanking in DSW compared with DNE.

  • John Ó Néill

    Nevin, I know you’re looking for a good news story but Donegal in general will always be a law unto itself. The next scheduled real gig is local elections in 18 months.

  • “I know you’re looking for a good news story”

    John, as a PRM apologist, I’m not surprised you’re attempting to spin your way out of Martin’s less than inspiring performance in DSW 🙂

    In Cavan-Monaghan Martin picked up 12,000 or so first preferences compared with 18,000 plus first preferences in the recent Dáil election and Caoimhghin O Caolain doesn’t come across as an inspiring figure.

  • John Ó Néill

    Nevin, how would you tally ‘tanking’ with an overall increase of nearly 40% in the SF vote?

  • “how would you tally ‘tanking’ with an overall increase of nearly 40% in the SF vote”

    John, SF suffered fairly dramatic drops in Donegal SW (14,000 > 9000) and Cavan-Monaghan (18,000 > 12,000), its border heartlands where it averaged just over a 25% share of the vote. I’m not surprised that Martin did well in his ‘home patch’ – DNE – the home of the Buncrana Long Rifles. He also did well in Sligo Leitrim North but perhaps its candidate in the Dáil election had been mediocre.

    I’m a bit surprised that you link SF to Labour when FF is SF-lite. If you browse NALIL blog and Slugger you’ll see accounts of cronyism and a developer both of which feature in the FF narrative but AFAIK not in the Labour one.

  • Coll Ciotach

    DSW – Gallaghers family is from there – that is the difference

  • That might make some difference, Coll, but it didn’t seem to help Mary Coughlan, a fellow lengthy time FFer.

  • Coll Ciotach

    Nevin – apples and oranges.