The Gist: Mutually Assured Destruction

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The Gist: Mutually Assured Destruction

It’s five days since the election and something has gone very wrong. These were going to be a few days where everyone took it easy, showed off their shiny new TDs and made gnomic comments about talking to everyone.

Instead, some imp of the perverse has provoked them to start a multi-party high stakes game of Chicken.

Nobody needed it, but that’s what we’ve got.

To Be Or Not To Be

Fianna Fáil suddenly face an existential crisis. This is a sentence that should never make any sense. They came out of the election with the most seats, they’re the pivot party between SF and FG, and are most likely to see their leader as Taoiseach. What’s not to like?

Apparently, the answer is ‘Continued Existence’. Because that’s what FF TD’s decided to work towards shedding at their meeting of newly-elected members. They have set their hearts on putting Fine Gael back into office in a Grand Coalition of the two parties formerly known as ‘big’.

Fianna Fáil are a patronage machine. They must get back into government if they are to deliver the patronage that their supporters expect. They’ve already been out of power longer than any time since Dev took the Oath of Allegiance in 1932. Micheál Martin must become Taoiseach.

Lots of FF TDs see Sinn Féin as a threat to their remaining voting base. But in response they are leaping into their Studebakers, combing their pompadours with their flick-combs and roaring straight towards the oncoming lights of letting Sinn Féin lead the opposition to a government the electorate has just comprehensively rejected.

Fine Gael will bite their hand off for it. That’s already clear.

Both are presuming the Greens will join if asked. This is, um, a problematic presumption, particularly as Section 5.8.4 of the Green Party Constitution requires any deal done by Green TDs to be ratified by the Green party members.

Anything to be said for another election?

No, there is not. The public would be both exhausted and enraged by it. The Sinn Féin surge might rise further- but it also might ebb away as dramatically as it emerged. Fianna Fáil would likely be the loser of those last seats that put it ahead. Fine Gael may already be on their floor, but there’s not much upside to showing their violently rejected and unrepentant faces again. And all the small parties are at risk of seeing their fresh new seats being hoovered up by new second and third SF candidates.

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