Stephen Collins: Reluctance of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil to govern understandable
One in three voters bought idea that Ireland is a hellhole in need of radical left policies
Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald. ‘The big winners this time were Sinn Féin, the party most vociferous in its attacks on all aspects of government policy.’ Photograph: Aidan Crawley/Bloomberg
The professed desire of many Fine Gael TDs, and some in Fianna Fáil as well, to go into opposition rather than government has turned the normal order of politics on its head but is an understandable response to the mood of the electorate. Attempting to hold a seat as a government TD has become a hugely difficult undertaking.
This trend has been a feature of the past three elections. In 2011, Fianna Fáil suffered the biggest reverse in Irish political history, dropping from 80 seats to 20 while the opposition parties, Fine Gael and Labour, had their best-ever results. The obvious explanation was that Fianna Fáil was held responsible for the financial crisis and nobody was prepared to give the party any credit for pulling the country back from the brink of economic disaster.