07 June 2009

Picking up the pieces

Well, this little bit of street art seen near our polling station neatly sums up this election.

Fianna Fail has been severely punished at both local and European level, and the Greens almost entirely wiped out as a force in local politics, reduced to around three council seats across the entire country, and disappearing entirely from Dublin, loosing all ten of their Dublin city and County Council seats. In the European Elections some good news for them in that Senator De Burca did receive slightly more first preferences than Patricia McKenna, but not enough to recoup her election costs and so a full recount is under way to see if she can pick up another few hundred votes and bring her some small relief at the end of a disappointing campaign.

While across Europe there has been a swing to the centre and far-right, here in Ireland the left has seen a substantial increase in support, with Nessa Childers looking likely for a historic election win in the East Euro constituency for Labour ( their first there in thirty years), Pronsious De Rossa on target for Dublin, and most encouraging of all Joe Higgins of the Socialist Party looking likely to pick up the third Dublin seat on the basis of Patrica McKenna's transfers.

While the Greens have been dealt the most devastating blow of all, if anything this will further cement their ties to the Fianna Fail lead government even tighter, as with the exception of former party leader Trevor Sergeant all the other sitting Green TDs would likely loose their seats were a national election called in the next few weeks. While the current party leadership will argue that Fianna Fail is now, more than ever, dependent upon their support and the time is ripe to renegotiate the Program for Government, they are still unlikely to be able to win significant concessions from Biffo on areas outside their ministerial portfolios, such as education, or see any movement on areas ruled out of bounds for discussion by Bertie Ahern in the original program negotiations, such as the Corrib pipeline, Shannon refueling, Tara bypass, Ringsend incinerator, etc, etc, even if John Gormley and Eamon Ryan were still interested in fighting for these issues.

With the resignation earlier this year of Patricia McKenna, Bronwen Maher and Chris O’Leary, the main voices of dissent within the Greens have been silenced, and I worry that there are now few internally who can voice the concerns of the electorate and help the party save itself from going the way of the PDs. The days ahead will be interesting indeed for a party in genuine danger of extinction.

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At 11:11 pm, Blogger Niall Murphy said...

The GP are, somewhat unfairly, taking the flak while the electorate feel they can safely kick the govt parties where it hurts. I suspect the calculus would be different in a general election (i.e. a "real" election.)

I personally am a pragmatist in this respect and feel there are more green policies right now because of this coalition than we would have got if they hadn't been in govt, and that to this extent, it has been a success for the GP. But the McKenna split and the results today reflect that hardly anyone agrees with me.

I'm used to that.


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