A changed political landscape
Sir, – As a member of Fianna Fáil, I fully support Fine Gael Cllr John Kennedy’s proposal for a grand coalition led by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael and possibly including the Green Party and Labour (Letters, February 12th).
Before the election, Micheál Martin and Leo Varadkar were adamant that they would not talk to Sinn Féin about coalition in the event of not achieving a majority. The time, however, has come for both leaders to speak to each other. The interests of the country are far more important than the fortunes of either party or personal political ambitions.
Such a grand coalition would also provide what confidence and supply could never offer: inherent stability, shared responsibility, unprecedented choice for ministerial roles – as well as the advantage of a robust Sinn Féin-led opposition keeping the government on its toes. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Three shades of green please, not 30. Fianna Fáil + Sinn Féin + Green Party = 87. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – One interesting question, which may become merely a footnote to the history of this election, is: on what basis any political party could legitimately refuse to enter government with another party because of the political principles of the latter?
Both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have said, prior to the election, that they would not enter a coalition with Sinn Féin, and many people have questioned their right to say this, particularly now, in the face of the democratic mandate indicated by that party’s share of the vote. But surely it cannot automatically be the case that a large share of a popular vote, or even a majority share, denotes democratic legitimacy?
Post-election, one line of the incompatibility argument, from Fine Gael, has been based on the divergence of proposed political programmes. But prior to the election the argument seemed to be based more on what might be called attitudes towards the legitimacy of the State, eg a purported continued connection with the IRA and expressed admiration for its past deeds.
If there is a suspicion that a party will be guided by these attitudes in government, surely it is the right, and perhaps even the duty of other parties to state that they would not share government with that party, and thus risk lending legitimacy by association to an entity whose political philosophy, not just political programme, is unacceptable.
There are arguments in favour of recognising electoral success. And one such argument is that it facilitates proper public scrutiny of the successful party’s policies and programmes. Perhaps it would be a wise decision by other parties to exercise that scrutiny from the opposition benches and not be swayed by appeals to democracy based on mere numbers.
There is much more to democracy than numbers or majorities. It would be a pity if the underlying question of democratic legitimacy, which this election has given us a chance to consider, goes unanswered. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – The solution to the current indecisive election result becomes apparent when one takes the long view. Both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have been in decline since the 1980s. Arguably this is their last chance for either party to provide a taoiseach. They will at best be the junior party in any future governments beyond 2020. Sinn Féin’s miscalculation in leaving 10 seats behind provides Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael with a small window of opportunity.
They should, along with the Greens (“FG on bicycles”), form a FF/FG/Green coalition. Their programme for government should steal the voter-friendly parts of Sinn Féin’s manifesto. Specifically, they have Eoin Ó Broin’s book to guide them on housing. The current low interest rates mean they can fund a Dublin underground train system, via a Green minister for transport. An all-party executive committee on health could be formed to blunt criticism by the left of the inevitable trolley delays.
One could envisage at the end of a four-year period in government, 100,000 council houses built, rents down substantially, ground broken on major transport infrastructure, and even perhaps a commitment to go for a border poll in, say, 10 years, and Sinn Féin’s unique selling point would be gone.
Both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael need to play for time. By “postponing” Sinn Féin for four more years, they may benefit their own parties, while also saving the country from financial ruin. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – To all those candidates who managed to secure a seat, do not discard those still relatively pristine election posters. They may needed in the very near future. – Yours, etc,
A chara, – The unprecedented outcome of General Election 2020 prompts the following modest proposal: why don’t the Social Democrats, and the Green Party, and the Labour Party consider a merger into what might be called Green Left? Such a new party would be of the left and it would be radical, but it would be free of any whiff of gelignite or nostalgia for Comrade Trotsky.
As things stand, it would have 24 seats in the new Dáil, which means that it would have to be taken very seriously. – Is mise,
Baile Átha Cliath 14.
A chara, – We will know that we are close to a new taoiseach when the “Minister for Kerry” takes up their portfolio. – Is mise,