Saturday 3 December 2016

It's a first: Irish parties manage to resist the lure of auction politics

Published 18/02/2016 | 02:30

Fianna Fáil’s Micheál Martin (left) and Fine Gael’s Enda Kenny during Monday’s party leaders’ debate in Limerick; so far, the 2016 General Election campaign has not seen examples of the parties attempting to outbid each other
Fianna Fáil’s Micheál Martin (left) and Fine Gael’s Enda Kenny during Monday’s party leaders’ debate in Limerick; so far, the 2016 General Election campaign has not seen examples of the parties attempting to outbid each other

Here are one party's election promises: an increase in State pensions, a €1,500 increase in child tax allowance, an €8-a-week increase in subsidised childcare, legislation to cap rent increases, more spending on housing and infrastructure and more tax breaks for companies to encourage research and investment.

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Whose promises are they? As it happens, they are Angela Merkel's. That Europe's high priestess of austerity went into her last campaign promising so many things to so many voters shows that parties making pledges at election time does not (necessarily) equate with auction politics and fiscal recklessness.

To further underscore the point, consider also last year's British Conservative Party manifesto, which promised more spending on health, the building of 200,000 below-market-price homes, 30 hours of free childcare, a higher state pension, lower inheritance tax and the removal of everyone earning under £12,500 a year from the income tax net.

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