The Irish General Election 2011

Presently, 154 out of the 165 seats in the Dáil have been filled. The seat tally, thus far, is as follows,

Fine Gael: 70

Labour: 36

Fianna Fail : 18

Sinn Fein: 13

Independents (no party affiliation): 13

Socialist: 2

People Before Profit: 2

South Kerry Independent Alliance: 0

Workers Party: 0

Green Party: 0

Christian Solidarity Party: 0

This was crushing defeat for the outgoing Fianna Fail party, while their allies the Greens were completely wiped out.  Although RTE lists 13 Independents, some of that number are part of the United Left Alliance. This is because the Alliance was hastily put together at the end of last year and didn’t have time to register many of its candidates as ULA candidates. This map shows just how much damage has been done to FF, who now have only one seat in Dublin.

One interesting result was that of ULA candidate Richard Boyd-Barrett in Dun Laoghaire, who is not only the son of actress, Sinead Cusack but a member of the Socialist Workers Party, who are a constituent member of the PBP. Boyd-Barrett won a seat at the expense of Fianna Fail’s deputy leader Mary Hanafin, but not before Labour’s Ivana Bacik demanded a recount.

It was a very good result for Sinn Fein, whose leader, Gerry Adams, left Westminster to contest the election. He won in Louth on the first count. Elsewhere, Joe Higgins of the Socialists won in Dublin West and his colleague, Clare Daly won Dublin North. Higgins is also an MEP who had previously sat in the Dail prior to the 2007 election. Joan Collins, another PBP candidate won a seat in Dublin South Central. Collins can be seen in this clip giving Bertie Ahern a hard time outside Leinster House.

Fine Gael leader, Enda Kenny, now has the task of trying to form a coalition with either some Independents or with Labour. There is a history of FG/Labour coalitions in Ireland, so this seems to be the most likely outcome. But these two parties make strange bedfellows: FG was formed in 1933 from a merger of Cumann na nGaedheal, The National Centre Party and Eoin O’Duffy’s  fascist Blueshirts. Labour, on the other hand, are supposed to be a social democratic party, so how the two can co-exist in government is indeed baffling. However a quick glance at Labour’s manifesto reveals that some of the party’s policies are, at least, intended to reassure FG should the two parties form a coalition. The phoney war of words between the two leaders during the election is now a distant memory.

So why do Labour go into coalition with a party that has a fascist past? It all begins in the 1950’s when Labour was accused of being in league with Moscow by Fianna Fáil during the Irish Red Scare. The party purged its membership of those members it saw as ‘communists’. This behaviour would be repeated in the 1980’s when Labour moved to purge the Militant Tendency from its ranks. Militant are now the Socialist Party and now have 2 seats in the Dáil. Labour’s only chance of power, therefore, was to go into a coalition with the Blueshirts. In spite of FF’s best efforts, there is still a taste for left-wing politics in Ireland.

So what now for Fianna Fáil, the self-described Republican Party? With its paltry 18 seats, it can do nothing but try and rebuild, but it does so from such a low base that the only left for it, is a complete realignment.  But this is unlikely to happen. Old habits die hard and FF are still living in the long shadow cast by the party’s founder, Eamon de Valera. While the party may not necessarily be the same genuflecting, rigidly Catholic party it once was, its political culture, that is to say the way in which it does politics, remains forever entrenched in the past. The party is mired in allegations of cronyism and corruption and dirty dealings that go right back to Dev himself. He founded and controlled the Irish Press, which acted as an unofficial-but-not-quite ministry of information.

Here’s a clip from the BBC documentary Ireland’s Hated Hero – Eamon De Valera

Naturally, Dev’s grandson, Eamon Ó Cuív won a seat on the first count.  There is no way that FF would allow a member of the illustrious De Valera family to lose a seat. It simply doesn’t happen. His uncle Vivion De Valera was the managing director of Irish Press Ltd from 1959 to 1981 and was also a TD. His first cousin, Sile De Valera was also a TD.

Yesterday,  Micheál Martin, FF leader appeared on RTE 1 to explain why his party had suffered so badly. Instead, he took a few swipes at Sinn Fein, whom he accused of being a “paramilitary party”. He’s a very bitter man.

According to RTE, FG leader, Kenny will begin exploratory talks with Labour on forming a coalition. If the Irish people were hoping for a change, then their hopes will be dashed. With an FG/Labour coalition, it will be business as usual. In fact,the Irish government will resemble the coalition government in this country: a centre-left party will act as a fig-leaf for a right-wing party.

UPDATE: @ 1744

Irish Examiner reports that the union UNITE has called on Labour to reject the Blueshirts overtures and form a left-leaning government. Given Labour’s history of running scared of FF and their allies in the media, this remains to be seen. Should FG form a government, it’s only a matter of time before it collapses and a new election is called. Nowhere Towers urges Labour to do the right thing for the sake of the people.

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1 Comment

Filed under General Election 2011, Ireland

One response to “The Irish General Election 2011

  1. Pingback: Fine Gael and Labour form coalition | Guy Debord's Cat

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