Can this odd couple make it all work?
Fine Gael is resurgent but a coalition with dithering Labour fails to reassure Eamon Delaney
Published 19/12/2010 | 05:00
The results of the latest opinion poll have serious implications for the formation of the next government. The results suggest Fine Gael, at 30 per cent is back on course to become the biggest party in the Dail for the first time in its history, but Labour, at 25 per cent, is still set to have its best election result and overtake Fianna Fail in terms of Dail seats. The Government, meanwhile, is at its lowest ebb ever, and is as good as gone despite Brian Cowen's spirited rally last week.
However, another feature of the poll is that while Labour and Fine Gael combined have 55 per cent of the vote, a combination of Labour, Sinn Fein and Independents/Others would have 51 per cent. This means there is still the spectre of Labour going elsewhere for a like-minded alliance, although given the bitterness of exchanges between Labour and Sinn Fein last week, that would be a hard one to fathom. Sinn Fein is the enemy for Labour at the moment and, from their point of view, must be stopped.
However, the big news is that FG is in the driving seat for the next government. But the question is, what kind of government? Despite being ostensible future bedfellows, FG and Labour are fighting like cats and dogs for the votes of the disillusioned and volatile public.