Forming a government


Sir, – In the event of the various political parties being unable to form a government, perhaps we could have a multiple-choice referendum in which we choose just one of the four or five combinations to form a government.

This would avoid a second election and save us from politicians lecturing us that they know what we voted for when we voted as we did. – Yours, etc,



Co Kildare.

Sir, – Listening to all the political parties deliberate the potential, or not, of entering government reminds me that when all is said and done, there is usually a lot more said than done. – Yours, etc,




Dublin 13.

Sir, – Many of the commentators have missed the significance of the seismic ideological shift in Irish politics in the recent election. An over-emphasis on the numbers game – getting a majority of 80-plus Dáil seats –has characterised the debate on government formation to the detriment of a more grounded analysis of the possibilities available to form a new government.

A clear ideological difference now exists between the three main parties. Fine Gael advocates policies that are right of centre with a strong emphasis on free-market solutions, Fianna Fáil tend towards the centre, while Sinn Féin are to the left of centre with policies that envisage a high level of State intervention.

On ideological, traditional and cultural grounds there is a virtual chasm between Fine Gael and Sinn Féin.

Significant policy differences, moral outlooks and visions of Irish society between these parties are unlikely to be bridged. It appears improbable that Sinn Féin and Fine Gael could find any basis for cooperation in all the major areas of concern highlighted in the election, such as housing, health and the public finances.

Since two of the three main parties are committed opponents with a deep visceral dislike of the other, a working Dáil is possible without a majority of seats.

If Fianna Fáil can acquire the support of the Greens, Social Democrats and/or Labour, a relatively stable minority government is possible.

For such a coalition to lose a confidence vote, Fine Gael and Sinn Féin would need to cooperate – an unlikely event. For example, measures by the coalition to increase carbon taxes would be opposed by Sinn Féin but supported by Fine Gael since it advocated a similar policy when in government.

A Fianna Fáil coalition could provide a relatively stable government with some skilled management given such fundamental differences between Fine Gael and Sinn Féin.

At least it beats another election. – Yours, etc,




Sir, – As someone who has campaigned in almost all elections since the 1980s, I cannot recall one in which the motivation has not been to effect “change”. The recent election is no different from any other in that respect.

The party I campaigned for has brought about considerable change, especially during periods in government when it was much larger than it is now.

Not all change is good. Brexit is change. Jumping into a black hole is change.

Despite the oft-repeated claim on the doorsteps that “politicians is all the same,” they is not. – Yours, etc,