Sinn Fein gets a lesson in humility
In the presidential election, Sinn Fein worked on a number of clear assumptions. Though these were well known to its membership and its supporters, they were less apparent to the Irish electorate. The first was its claim to now be one of the main political parties in the State, in contention for the role of main opposition party in place of Fianna Fail.
As such, the party made a second assumption. This was that, as a main political party, it needed to run a candidate for the presidency. It was reinforced in this by the scale of Fianna Fail's collapse in the February general election together with the party's decision not to contest the presidential election. The first was unexpected, the second the result of an understandable loss of confidence combined with colossal debts.
Although the presidential election turned into an unprecedented multi-horse race, the vacuum created by Fianna Fail's self-exclusion was tailor-made for Sinn Fein.