Fine Gael eyes single-party rule -- with help from FF
SENIOR Fine Gael strategists are eyeing up the prospect of a single-party government -- with the voting support of Fianna Fail
Fine Gael is not targeting an overall majority -- a senior party source has admitted that it is highly improbable the party will win enough seats.
"Bertie missed out (on an overall majority) with 40 per cent of the vote so we're not going to do it with 30 per cent."
But in a reprise of Fianna Fail's attempt in 2002 to 'sneak up' on an overall majority, top-level Fine Gael strategists have not dismissed the possibility that should the party win more than 70 seats, a humiliated Fianna Fail may feel the best opportunity for recovery would be to support a Fine Gael government.
In the run-up to election 2011, Fine Gael is already well positioned to take advantage of the contrasting woes of its two main electoral rivals, Fianna Fail and Labour.
One top strategist noted "the recent polls show that FF is the sick man of Irish politics. They will not be sitting up in bed in the recovery ward eating a soft boiled egg any time soon either.''
Senior Fine Gael figures are suggesting the real election in 2011 will be between Fine Gael and a left-wing alliance of Labour, Independent Socialists and Sinn Fein.
One said this new development provided the lead opposition party with a "real opportunity to quietly get our vote up into the mid-30 per cent bracket and aim for a majority''.
A key election theme will be that "Ireland cannot afford a hard left government'' and that the Fine Gael strike force of Michael Noonan, Leo Varadkar and Brian Hayes can offer stability and competence and, in the shape of Mr Noonan, experience in key government posts.
Fine Gael strategists are convinced Labour is "fighting on two flanks".
"Labour's working class support is now being threatened, while the high-earning ABC1 voters, who are the softest element of the Labour vote, will flee in droves if they see Sinn Fein coming in the back door''.
Speaking to the Sunday Independent, one veteran strategist said: "Every campaign has its moment where somebody gains momentum. That could be us -- for on policy as we have the hard yards done. Unlike others, we are not waffling. We have actually spent the last two to three years thinking through what has to be done''.
Fianna Fail leadership contender Micheal Martin and the retiring minister Noel Dempsey have both indicated they could support a Fine Gael government if it was implementing policies broadly compatible with those of Fianna Fail.