Interesting assessment by Pat Leahy of the extension of the confidence and supply agreement…
…the truth is that political considerations certainly played a part in Martin’s decision: he is a politician; he cannot divorce politics from his decision-making.
Martin called off a 2019 election not just because he believed it was in the national interest – which is hard to argue against – but because he believed it was in his interest. May was his intended date, I am given to understand, with the realisation that Leo Varadkar might have called it earlier.
The review of the confidence-and-supply agreement was going nowhere. The talks were certainly not establishing the foundation for a renewal of the deal.
There’s a tension between the demands of democracy and those of politics. As my learned friend, Paul Evans points out in his latest pamphlet, they are not the same thing. Occasionally, they do coincide.
Pat runs with the ‘polls were looking grim’ view (which they kind of were/are). Martin himself in various interviews over the weekend, admitted that whoever triggered an election would get punished.
That applies as much to the government as to Fianna Fáil. The gaps vary, but on current seat numbers, it would be a confident FGer who thought it beyond FF to run a decent campaign and pull past them.
So if it’s not that, then what are the actual politics here?
On a tactical level, the review chewed up an autumn of subrosa government spin about an early election. On the strategic level, zero demands from FF means that confidence and supply is effectively over.
If the last 12 months was notably more testy than the year before, this year is likely to be a pre war zone. The cover for Brexit is only around no confidence, as it slowly stretches into the dog’s dinner stage.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty