The Gist: Conventional Wizards

A rare treat as the nameless voice of Ireland's leading political commentators helms a special Gist

The Gist: Conventional Wizards

“Well, its been quite a few weeks now since the election and really the important part of politics, the doing deals, the meetings in secret, the briefing of trusted press outlets are all well underway. This is where the real action happens, where important people do things which can always be explained as rational and clever, after the fact.

Symposium of respectability

The two big parties, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have been in the driving seat throughout the history of the state and will want to show that they can carry on in the driving seat for the next 100 years. Some people find that comforting- that’s one of the reasons they got nearly 73 seats at the last election between them. Other people would like to see someone else go into government. It’s not for a journalist to say what might happen in the future, but just to report what’s already gone on in the past.

Though, that said, there will be something it’s safe to report happening in the near future. The two parties will be having a symposium, a sort of policy exchange as its been described to me by some very knowledgable sources, where they will tell each other things. No deal is done, not by any means yet, but it is certainly a thing that might happen in the future that may, or may not, lead to a deal being done.

No polls have come out this week since the one showing the two big parties on 17 and 18 percent respectively. That’s going to be a critical thing to watch out for in the next few weeks, as depending on the polls is a key part of modern politics and reporting. It’s vital to have hard facts to work from. Opinions, if you express them, can be wrong later, while reading poll numbers from a sheet is always an unchallengeable position.

Votes Quandary

There was a Fine Gael meeting where strong opinions were expressed- some TDs going so far as to say what would be best would be if there was another election and Sinn Féin won even more seats so they could go into government, just to show how bad they’d be. This isn’t a universally held opinion in FG, not even, perhaps, a common one. But you do hear it voiced often enough to make it certainly one strand of anonymously quoted opinion.

The problem with this plan, in the minds of some people, and I stress I don’t have any particular point of view on this, in the minds of those people might be the thought that another election could let loose uncontrolled elements into the political system. Specifically, voters.

The problem of democracy

Voters in the last election proved to be very unpredictable and to want things completely at odds with the issues most to the fore in political circles- Brexit, tax cuts and social order. Instead they were quite insistent that they wanted something- and right now, it’s hard to know just what that something was- done about housing and health. That’s what the exit polls tell us, so we know it’s safe to say.

It’s clear at this stage that one of the most unstable parts of the Irish political system is the election process. It's thrown up an almost impossible collection of parties, some more conventional than others.

It is possible that, unlike the professional political class, the electorate simply isn’t qualified to make these decisions for itself.

Certainly, we can’t know that for sure yet, but time will tell.”

photo: David Catchpole