Political turmoil grabs global headlines

Mon, Jan 24, 2011, 00:00

The current turmoil in Irish politics has attracted widespread international reaction, with media outlets using terms like “meltdown” and “implosion” to describe the events of the past few days.

On its website, the BBC said Taoiseach Brian Cowen had been left “clinging onto power” by the weekend's events and predicted he might well be voted out of office by the end of the week.

Under the headline "Irish parties set for crisis talks after Greens quit", it said there was now recognition on all sides that the political squabbling was “damaging Ireland's reputation abroad”.

The  Financial Times  said Ireland’s Government was set to be the first to fall as a result of the euro zone debt crisis following the Green Party’s decision to pull out of the Coalition.

An editorial in the same paper, headlined “Irish Meltdown”, said the country was now facing “arguably the worst crisis in its history as an independent nation. “These factional antics could turn the expected Fianna Fáil rout at the polls into electoral annihilation,” it said.

“That may be richly deserved. This is, after all, the party that through its cronyism and incompetence artificially prolonged the boom of the 1990s into the credit and property bubble of the past decade, and then gave a blanket guarantee to its bankers that has ended in the humiliation of Ireland becoming a ward of the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.”

The New York Times said the political events of the last few days had prompted fresh questions about Ireland’s commitment to the terms of the EU/IMF bailout.

Mr Cowen is also judged by the newspaper: “His quixotic style of leadership has exhausted even close supporters: insisting last fall that Ireland needed no bailout, until the moment he began negotiations for one; trying to rebuild his government last week without consulting the Greens, only to have them reject his proposals; and finally, bowing to demands that he quit, but insisting on remaining prime minister until after the election.”

The Wall Street Journal said the Greens' move had “delivered the coup de grace” to a government that over the past week has “spectacularly imploded in full view of a weary and apprehensive electorate”.

“Fianna Fáil, which dominated Irish politics for nearly 80 years, now is bracing itself for a defeat of historic proportions in elections that could be held as early as next month,” it said.

Another article in the same paper predicted: “Fianna Fáil's implosion could fundamentally reshape Ireland's political landscape, with a more conventional right-left divide replacing the current balance of power between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, both centrist parties.”

Under the headline “Greens pull out of crumbling Irish government”, CNN News said the austerity measures and appeal for international financial aid had made Mr Cowen and his Government "the focus of voter anger.”

The Sydney Morning Herald  went with "Ireland's Government in tatters” after junior coalition partners pull out.

The paper said: “The development deepens the political crisis sparked by Dublin's acceptance of a bailout from the European Union and International Monetary Fund in November following the country's financial meltdown."

The  Times of India  focused on the four-way fight for the leadership of Fianna Fáil following Mr Cowen’s resignation. Mr Cowen, it said, had been under pressure for months "over his handling of the debt crisis which brought the Irish economy to its knees and forced it to accept international loans in November".