Coalition politics of necessity can make liars of everyone…

Nice story from Noel Whelan pointing out that whatever parties say now about what their position will be after the next election, complicated electoral mathematics will exert its own power when the time comes…

Labour spent the first two weeks after the 1992 election teasing out coalition prospects with the other parties. When these efforts did not go well Spring met Reynolds for exploratory talks on December 13th, 1992.

On December 14th, the Dáil met for the first time after the election. Reynolds, John Bruton and Spring were each nominated for taoiseach and were defeated and the Dáil adjourned.After a month of negotiations a new Fianna Fail-Labour government was formed on January 12th, 1993, 48 days after the election.

When the current Dáil is dissolved and a date is set for a general election the law requires that a date must also be set for the first meeting of the next Dáil.

There is no guarantee, however, that a new government will be elected on that day.

A lot can happen in the weeks after an election. Firm pledges not to go into government made before polling day are often cast aside after it. Old animosities and even recent antagonisms are quickly overcome. The country needs a government. Nothing concentrates the minds of politicians like the fear of a further election.

Next year will be no different.

Except that it probably will be different in ways that are currently hard to anticipate…


  • Kevin Breslin

    Unfair generalization, many politicians can and have lied in majority governments and in opposition parties.

  • Robin Keogh

    With just about four months to go before the election, current polls point to trouble in the house. I agree with you Mick, this could be the first time ever that a government might not be formed after an election, forcing a rerun. (assuming thats what you mean). Fine Gael and SF will not marry under any circumstances. While Enda sounded out SF after the 2007 election, next year SF could not survive a union with FG, half the party would flee, including myself. Unless by some miracle FG agreed to lurch to the left. No chance of that.

    FF are all over the place. Serious divisions exist over coalition options with some wanting a FG alliance and others happy to get into bed with SF. Aside from that they have srious issues across the country in terms of convention outcomes not to mention a potentially awkward scandal in the middle of the campaign. Mick Martin is losing the confidence of his party rapidly. He cant credibly go into coalition with SF after an election but if the numbers add up his party could throw him over, and enter gov with SF under a new leader. Its looking more and more like his number is up anyway.

    It is also looking like Labour might be almost completely wiped out. This puts SF in the position of kingmaker for the foreseeable unless one of the independent alliances make a massive breakthrough in the next short while.

    However, FG/FF/Lab will most likely swing in behind INM to launch a blistering campaign against SF in the run up, its the only way they have a chance at peeling away SF position in the polls, and its the only way they can hope to avoid forcing a grand coalition between FG and FF. Temperature is rising rapidly down here. Looking at my canvassing diary, christmas day might be my only rest day.

  • eamoncorbett

    If we assume from the polls that FG will be the largest party and either FF or SF the second largest , then you have independents half of which could be centrists or right wing and the other half left wing anti austerity TDs . It is safe to assume that FG will go fishing in the first of these pools to find like minded bedfellows , if there’s not enough fish in this barrell then the Dick Spring scenario could come into play , and you might see Martin as Tanaiste yet.

  • Gingray

    If FG don’t get enough support from the independents, I could see FF agree to a confidence and supply scenario – agree an election in a year for support on key measures.
    Ff abstention should even be enough and sell it as responsible politics.

  • Gingray

    It’s a lesson sinn fein have yet to learn in the north – coalition means compromise, don’t hide from it