Wednesday 29 March 2017

How playing by the rules became a mug's game

The coping classes are starting to feel like they are the only ones playing ball, and that they are fools for doing so, writes Brendan O'Connor

DISCONTENT: Hundreds of protesters holding red cards in Reykjavik after Icelandic prime minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson stepped down over revelations in the Panama Papers. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images
DISCONTENT: Hundreds of protesters holding red cards in Reykjavik after Icelandic prime minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson stepped down over revelations in the Panama Papers. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Brendan O'Connor

Brendan O'Connor

Here's something to think about. What happens if the middle classes lose faith in the system? Despite the huge levels of anger and disillusionment in this country, we remain, at heart, quite a conservative country. Most people still support the system. Despite the talk of a shift to the Left in the last election, people still voted quite traditionally. Half of all first preferences went to the two establishment parties. Some 15pc of the vote went to what could be called quasi-establishment parties - Labour, SocDems, Greens and Renua Ireland, all of whom largely accept the capitalist status quo, though maybe with a more redistributive flavour (or less in the case of Renua Ireland). Sinn Fein got 14pc of the vote but it is difficult to say how many Sinn Fein voters are really radical or against the system. Sinn Fein is a very traditional party in many ways and is a wannabe establishment party.

Much of the 18pc of the vote that went to Independents went to elect fairly middle-of-the-road or conservative candidates, too. So you could argue that the only really radical vote was the 4pc that went to AAA/PBP. The revolution is not coming any time soon.

However, there is a definite drift away from the traditional establishment parties. Fianna Fail and Fine Gael used to enjoy about 80pc of the vote. Now it's down to 50pc, and the political landscape continues to fragment.

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