Tuesday 6 December 2016

The coming together of the Civil War parties is a long way from inevitable

How the electorate reacts to the coming weeks of instability will determine what Fine Gael and Fianna Fail do, writes Dan O'Brien

Published 28/02/2016 | 02:30

'You can quibble around the edges, but both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are essentially centrist, catch-all parties – moderate, mildly conservative, perhaps, but far from reactionary.' Photo: Steve Humphreys
'You can quibble around the edges, but both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are essentially centrist, catch-all parties – moderate, mildly conservative, perhaps, but far from reactionary.' Photo: Steve Humphreys

Fragmentation. Splintering. Fracture. These were the words often used yesterday as the exit polls were digested and results trickled in.

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As of late yesterday afternoon, it was absolutely clear that the 32nd Dail will be the most diverse in living memory. The duopoly that the Civil War parties have enjoyed since the 1930s is over.

The conventional wisdom, shared by most political analysts and pundits until very recently, was that the combined support of the coalition parties would rise during the campaign on the basis that Irish voters are "stability oriented" (there was even talk as recently as January of Fine Gael winning an overall majority). This reading of the electorate has proved very wrong.

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