Reading the electoral tea leaves

A chara, – Barry Colfer encourages The Irish Times to engage meaningfully with the evidence from the recent European Parliament elections (Letters, May 30th). Perhaps he should follow this advice himself.

Whether one likes them or not, the fact is that the so-called “populist” EU parties increased their vote by over 50 per cent overall in the recent elections.

Claims that the main groupings in the European Parliament are uniformly pro-European do not tally with the facts. In the Czech Republic, the ANO party is led by billionaire Andrej Babiš, who is hostile towards joining the euro and frequently attacks Brussels in his speeches. ANO is part of the ALDE grouping, as is Fianna Fáil.

Likewise, the Hungarian Fidesz party, which is part of the EPP grouping along with Fine Gael, has been critical of the EU and has also been widely accused of flouting the core principles of the union. It wasn’t too long ago that the Irish Green Party was Eurosceptic.


Mr Colfer claims that the slim majority achieved by the PiS, Law and Justice party in Poland constitutes some sort of failure on the part of the populists. As far as I can see, in only three member states did any political parties achieve a majority. The other two were Malta and Hungary. – Is mise,



Co Dublin.

A chara, – Barry Colfer lauds Ireland’s “consistent and outright rejection” of anachronistic politics (Letters, May 30th).

Au contraire.

Civil War politics still rules.

Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael arose from a split in the original Sinn Féin.

They haven’t gone away, you know. – Is mise,


Dublin 6.

Sir, – The measured tone of your editorial on the European elections ("An new centre takes shape", May 28th) contrasts with the summary of European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker: "These populists, nationalists, stupid nationalists, they are in love with their own countries."

When did patriotism become an offence? – Yours, etc,



Sir, – Could I point out to Stephen Collins that his assessment of the European election result, "old firm of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil continue to dominate the political landscape pretty much as they have done for almost a century", does not stand up when tested against the facts? ("Labour, Greens and Social Democrats can play key role in next election", Opinion & Analysis, May 30th).

For example, in the 1984 European election, both parties did indeed dominate, securing a massive 71.4 per cent of the vote between them. Last week they managed a mere 44.9 per cent. I think your columnist, on mature reflection, might agree that things have changed somewhat. – Yours, etc,