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.