In Saturday’s Irish Times, Fiach Kelly had some timely advice for Sinn Féin and the DUP – and their supporters.
Those who seek to govern will always have to compromise, and those who do not – unless their policies are allowed absolute domination – will always decry whatever deals are made.
The electorate is free to choose which type of politician it wants, but if it chooses the former, it should do so in the knowledge that compromises will be made.
Despite this week’s setback in Stormont, those involved believe a deal will be done in the coming weeks, but there must be a ready market in the electorate for what Sinn Féin and the DUP will eventually have to sell.
Political systems that produce coalition governments will always involve transactional give-and-take; a piece of this manifesto here blended with another policy document there.
Unless we want to return to an era of single-party majority governments, politics will always be a leap of faith on the part of its practitioners and consumers: the politicians to make compromise, and voters to accept them.
It will also involve an acceptance of the uncomfortable truth that broken promises are – sometimes – necessary for good government.
Indeed. Although, as he also points out…
It would be refreshing for the political system as a whole to treat policies proposed by political parties as priorities rather than cast-iron promises: an indication of what they want to do in office rather than written-in-blood vows.
Yet such a wish is naive. A politician will always make a promise or a pledge in the heat of an election, though they should not be foolish enough to make rash and unachievable ones, the kind that undermines faith in politics. [added emphasis]