A very different general election
Sir, – Geraldine Kennedy provides a comprehensive and accurate historical analysis of the political landscape in the context of previous national elections (“A very different general election”, News Features, January 2nd). She is also correct is saying that “stability” will be one of the defining narratives of the election campaign.
I beg to differ though when she writes that there is “no alternative taoiseach for the first time”. As Geraldine Kennedy rightly points out, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil “will have enough seats to form a stable majority government” but then rather bizarrely says that “Micheál Martin will not allow it to happen” for “historical reasons in 2016”. Has it not occurred to your respected former editor that it may not be up to Mr Martin to decide on this outcome?
While unlikely, it is not unfathomable that we could see the next government with Simon Coveney or Leo Varadkar as taoiseach, for example, and Michael McGrath of Fianna Fáil as tánaiste and minister for finance.
Almost half the population will vote for the Civil War parties, so clearly they will have a mandate to govern. In one fell swoop, the politics of the next Dáil would be transformed.
Of course this form of stability won’t happen willingly – the old guard in both parties will fight tooth and nail to preserve the status quo, their positions in the political pecking order and their futures.
Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have a lot of economic policies in common but they are also equal in their loathing and distrust of Sinn Féin. “Anything but Sinn Féin” is the mantra that we hear most, with both parties pivoting so as not to allow their arch-enemy claim the ascendancy. However, as we have seen in some county councils, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil can bury their differences and work together, but only when threatened by Sinn Féin.
Are the Civil War parties going to end their political feud in the centenary year of 2016 and govern together in a stable, majority administration and transform politics in this country? If respected commentators and analysts do not at least acknowledge this alternative, then they are just like the politicians themselves who believe in their own spin. – Yours, etc,