Cliff Taylor: The numbers to watch as count drama plays out

Coming days will be a poker game with nobody willing to show their cards

There is no chemistry between Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin and Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny, which means a full coalition between the parties would face huge hurdles.  Photograph: Chris Radburn/PA Wire.

There is no chemistry between Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin and Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny, which means a full coalition between the parties would face huge hurdles. Photograph: Chris Radburn/PA Wire.

 

As you read this , the tallies will be coming in and the first indications of whether the opinion polls got it right will be emerging. Depending on what time of the day it is, you may be hearing estimates of first count percentages. This will tell a lot. Whatever happens, after the votes are counted we are going to be into a very interesting period. Here are the key numbers to watch over the weekend.

79

70

There are only so many independents, or smaller groups who could be roped in. There would be a big difference, for example, between Fine Gael and Labour getting, say 65-66 seats – which would make government formation near-impossible – and getting 72-73 seats, which could mean it was “ on”. A “good” Independent in this context, as one former minister put it to me, is one prepared to “get bought and stay bought”. In other words, they agree to some booty for their locality – a road, a school, broadband, whatever – and in return agree to support the government. All in the interest of national stability, of course. And no, it wouldn’t be pretty. Something more policy-oriented would be needed to pull in other groupings, such as the Social Democrats.

12

13

48 hours

3 to 4 weeks

Fianna Fáil would fear its fate in coalition, with Sinn Féin leading the opposition and building itself up for the next election. Senior party figures from Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have quickly shot down any suggestion from TDs during the election campaign that such an arrangement might follow the vote. And Micheál Martin would have to get it past a party ardfheis, which would be difficult.

A step short of a grand coalition would be Fianna Fáil agreement that it would allow a minority Fine Gael administration to be formed. This would involve it agreeing to abstain on the election of a taoiseach and subsequent motions of confidence in the government – for as long as it supported the overall direction of policy. This so-called “confidence and supply” arrangement would stop Fianna Fáil from being pulled into coalition, though it would also miss out on the “Mercs and perks” of government. It will be a defining call for Micheál Martin, if it comes to it.

1%

Zero

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.