Saturday 10 December 2016

Current Government's performance points to grim future for Irish politics

'New politics' has not worked well, but is here to stay. So don't expect future coalitions to be more stable than this one

Published 18/09/2016 | 02:30

'It should also be said that although the current administration has not performed well overall, as this column will argue, it has not been an outright failure. ' Picture credit; Damien Eagers
'It should also be said that although the current administration has not performed well overall, as this column will argue, it has not been an outright failure. ' Picture credit; Damien Eagers

The country's political parties have wrapped up their annual think-ins before the start of the new Oireachtas term. Seven months on from the General Election and with the Government in office for more than four months, now is a good time to consider how the 'new politics' has worked. Much more importantly, what does the functioning of the new politics say about the longer-term prospects for the country's quality of government?

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Let's start by saying that the very considerable political uncertainty, domestically and in relation to Brexit, has had less impact on the economy than it might have done. Growth in consumer spending and confidence indicators certainly paint a more subdued picture in 2016 than over the course of last year, but they do not point to a slump. And, as discussed in my column in the business section, there is only limited evidence to suggest that companies are investing less in their productive capacity as a result of political uncertainty.

It should also be said that although the current administration has not performed well overall, as this column will argue, it has not been an outright failure. The preparation for the possibility of a vote for Brexit was good, as has been the focus on the huge challenge the UK's likely departure from the EU has posed since the referendum in June (with a few notable exceptions). The publication last week of a detailed 10-year education plan shows that some substantive work is being done in the policy space too.

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