The Irish Times view of the Green Party’s deal-making

Readiness to strike agreements with Fianna Fáil on Dublin councils is an intriguing political development

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan TD with local election candidates at the launch of the party’s local election manifesto in Dublin in May 2019. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan TD with local election candidates at the launch of the party’s local election manifesto in Dublin in May 2019. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

The readiness of the Green Party to strike deals with Fianna Fáil for control of three of the four Dublin local authorities in the wake of the local elections has been an intriguing political development. It shows that while electoral politics can be about an alternative vision for society, governing is about numbers. The much vaunted Green surge was a little exaggerated given that the party polled 5.5 per cent in the local elections. That was hardly a political earthquake but it still represented a significant breakthrough, particularly as the increase in the party’s vote was concentrated in a number of Dublin constituencies.

The decision of the party to go into power with Fianna Fáil at local level is surely an indication that they will be prepared to do the same in the Dáil

It will be fascinating to see what use the Greens make of their new-found influence on three Dublin councils. They have shown a pragmatic ability to grab the reins of power when the opportunity presented itself but how that will resonate with some of their more idealistic supporters will be something to watch. More to the point the policies they implement at local level will show whether they will be able to influence the direction of national government if they join a coalition after the next election.

The decision of the party to go into power with Fianna Fáil at local level is surely an indication that they will be prepared to do the same in the Dáil after the general election if the numbers for an alternative administration add up. The massive electoral setback experienced by the Greens at the end of their coalition with Fianna Fáil between 2008 and 2011 does not appear to have put them off taking responsibility for governing and that is to be commended.

The Labour Party also appears to have got over its most recent traumatic experience of government and seems ready act in tandem with the Greens in the negotiations to form the next government. Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael will each be competing to win the backing of both smaller parties and that will involve making important policy concessions to win them over. Ultimately, though, the number of seats the various parties hold will determine whether a Fianna Fáil or a Fine Gael led administration is the more feasible.

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