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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: February 11, 2011 @ 12:33 pm

    FG, Sinn Féin and the Green Arrow

    Deaglán de Bréadún

    Fine Gael and Sinn Fein are the parties which appear to be doing best in the election campaign. FG  are advancing steadily but apparently inexorably in the polls. SF are holding up too. A lot of people will be alarmed by these two phenomena but it’s a time unlike any other that we have known.

    Fianna Fail, meanwhile, seem to be pulling back from the brink. Most of you bloggerati are too young to remember the “Follier-Uppers” that used to be show in the Dublin cinemas way back when.

    These were serials, usually in black and white, with titles like, “The Green Arrow”. At the end of every 15 or 20-minute instalment, the Hero would be hanging over a cliff, apparently beyond rescue. You wondered how he could possibly get out of this but you always knew at the same time that in next week’s thrilling episode he would free himself to embark on another adventure.

    Micheál Martin is the Green Arrow. The Fianna Fail open-top vintage car was on the precipice but he has pulled it back to comparative safety, partly because he’s new and partly due to his performance in the TV debate with Eamon Gilmore.

    Meanwhile, more and more people are wondering if FG could win an overall majority. As Zhou en-Lai responded, when asked for his verdict on the French Revolution, “It’s too early to say.”

    FG getting 83 seats or more on its own (out of a total 165, excluding the Ceann Comhairle)  must still be considered highly unlikely. When the numbers are all in, though, we may find that FG has enough seats to form a government with like-minded or at least cooperative Independents (and Independents always  have  incentives to be cooperative).

    In that event, it is probable that FG would still prefer to go into coalition with Labour, for the sake of stability. But the mathematical possibility of an alternative combination would enhance Labour’s motivation to be very loyal coalition partners.

    Sinn Fein were deeply disappointed last time to come back with only four seats,  when they were expecting about 11. It will be surprising if they don’t make it to double-figures in this election. Herewith my analysis of their election manifesto, launched yesterday.

    • robespierre says:

      I think the part that nobody can measure at this stage is transfers and where they are going.

      SF are still transfer toxic for a lot of people so will need tub thumping 1st prefs to win new seats. 12% means you need to get a fair few transfers to get any seats.

      FF similarly will for all MM’s impact struggle to get transfers. In fact its candidates may benefit from tactical transfers against SF but still lose out.

      FG overall majority unlikely at present but Labour are struggling at the moment. They need to gag Joan Burton and remember they are going for government not opposition. We know what the problems are, people are more interested in what they are going to do. A lot of people in the private sector listening to their ideas are feeling quite quesy.

      Voyons ce qui va passer dans les semaines qui viennent.

    • Lewis says:

      With FF, FG and Labour all pretty close in economic policy terms, its likely that SF is going to be the real opposition force after the election. 12% of the vote will get them about a dozen seats – a big advance.

    • gav says:

      I think that one of the stories of the election will be that SF attract more transfers than previously. The fact is that whilst the media continually deride their economic policies, many people believe the poicies are as likely to work as the main parties. It’s difficult to imagine Pearse Doherty leaving discussions with European finance ministers and the ECB with as poor a deal for Ireland as Lenihan achieved. I don’t think I’d have the same confidence with joan burton and labour. To be honest I can’t imagine labour negotiating their way out of a parking space. If only we could send a Doherty / Noonan dream team. Unlikely I know.

    • Mmmmm says:

      The Green Arrow will win the day — vous allez voir..!!

    • Sinn Fein are always going to be held back by one factor (and, for obvious reasons, this must really, really rile them). They are seen as bleeding Northerners. However many Dubliners or Corkonians or Westmeathists they put up, a large swathe of the public will continue to regard the party as interlopers from a distant, unvisited province. The irony hardly needs to be pointed out.

    • Tess says:

      I’d rather gouge out my own eyes than have, for example, the Labour Party’s anti-patriarchy, arch-feminist Ivana Bacik anywhere near a government front bench. I’m surprised she didn’t ‘devour’ her Labour party colleague, ye olde staunch patriarch, Pet Rabbitte following his recent sexist faux pas/comment re “the ladies from Grafton Street.” (Come to think of it, I did notice a chunk out of his left ear on one of the election campaign posters — probably the wind..!!)
      In my opinion Micheál Martin ticks all the right boxes with regard to modern politics including the involvement of women. The man has the exact right attitude, instinctively.
      I hope SF will not figure at all on polling day — a lot more penance to do, that lot. I do not think Enda/FG will do at all as well as they predict.

    • RayD says:

      The problem for SF is not their policies as annunciated since these are in the main excellent and, in particular in regard to economic policy, in line with the views of the economic experts. It is not policies that are the problem but the constant smearing that goes on against them. SF will do very well to get into double figures though what the country really needs is a radical approach.

      As the lack of numbers on marches and protests show most peoplle don’t care a hoot about the bailout, Nama etc. I felt very disappointed when attending such protests. SF policies will therefore not overcome the smears. A bit like Labour’s Seventies will be socialist plans which fell to ‘commie’ smears at the time. What if FG’s just society and Labour’s sociaist policies gained favour during the late Sixties and into the Seventies. We would have a very different country now I feel. But the peole are a craven lot and the country is endemically corrupt. We like it that way will continue to get the kind of Governments that we vote for. No change then rather same old (very old) faces back again.

    • Jim Carroll says:

      What Donald says at 5 does apply, though there is also an age swing to consider too. Older voters will always see the letters IRA when they see SF, but voters under 35 don’t get the whiff of cordite, which explains why the party are attracting the sort of soft switchers who went with FF lin ’02 and ’07. But as robespierre @ 1 points out, they just won’t get the transfers from the main parties to really capitalise in terms of seats. Still, I think they’ll do better than people think but not as well as they’d do without the good Baron Adams in charge.

    • JerryF says:

      One of Sinn Fein’s problems is that the Irish Times and other newspapers ignore them and refuse to publish Sinn Fein’s policies. Otherwise, they would be the party on the verge of a majority vote.

    • Pre election polls are just opinions. Last election Sinn Fein held 5 seats, they were supposed to win 10 seat according to the polls. They lost one seat and went back to the Dail with 4 seats. The voters decide

      .I would not write off Fianna Fail yet. There is the traditional Fianna Fail mind. In a polling booth it is hard for me to imagine a Fianna Fail supporter, voting Fine Gale, Labour, Sinn Fein or The Green Party. But this is just my opinion! Time will tell when the votes are counted.

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