When one departure can upset the house of cards
The mid-term elections reveal how delicate the Coalition's lead truly is
Within the space of a few days, John Bryan went from being viewed as a misguided choice from a bygone era to a lost saviour. As soon as he had announced he wasn't running for Fine Gael in the European elections, party TDs previously critical of the former IFA president's candidacy were up in arms. Up to then, he was too rural and lacking charisma with no appeal to urban voters in a sprawling constituency.
Following five months of coaxing him into position, Bryan's departure from the field was blamed on party strategists' insistence on a three-candidate strategy frightening him off. Regardless of the view of his chances, his decision to stand down has exposed the fine line between success and failure for the coalition parties in the forthcoming European elections.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny's hopes of holding four seats are in jeopardy. After the high of the 2009 campaign where the Labour Party won three seats and Fine Gael dropped one to a still credible four MEPs, the parties are facing the potential of a drop from a combined win of seven MEPs last time round to just three seats.