Tuesday 27 September 2016

Kenny will need considerable wizardry if he is to stay on as anchor tenant in Government Buildings

Published 27/02/2016 | 02:30

The publication of the report was held back until 10pm so that voting would be unaffected. Photo: Brian Hutton/PA Wire
The publication of the report was held back until 10pm so that voting would be unaffected. Photo: Brian Hutton/PA Wire

This is a hammer blow to Fine Gael and Labour who presented themselves to voters as the people who saved the national economy.

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At the very best, Mr Kenny will have to find and deploy considerable political wizardry if he is going to stay on as anchor tenant in Government Buildings.

But a boost for Fianna Fáil also means pressure for the party to make groundbreaking decisions in a likely hung Dáil. It also opens intriguing possibilities for other coalition options.

Fine Gael is likely to be 10pc shy of its 2011 showing and facing the internal attrition that will inevitably cause for Mr Kenny, who apparently led the economic recovery.

Let's keep the focus on the point that Fine Gael and the very battered Labour Party are on a combined 34pc of the vote. In reality that is a good 10pc short of what is required to get a decent majority and provide stable government.

He could well be looking at a tribe of 'Independents and others' and be obliged to give them far more than the occasional constituency goody to put a new show on the road.

The projected outcome raises serious questions about the leadership of Fine Gael and Labour which will be parked until after government-forming discussions.

But Joan Burton, who replaced the ousted Labour leader Eamon Gilmore after the 2014 local elections, has taken her party nowhere.

Labour was on 7pc in those 2014 locals - it is under 8pc now.

For Fianna Fáil it's a case of good news/bad news. The good news is that it is on 23pc and on target to be able to claim 'Recovery -Phase 1'.

The bad news is that huge pressure may come on the once and recent "natural party of government" to do the decent thing and join a grand coalition with Fine Gael.

There are shades of the same for Sinn Féin. The party got 10pc in 2011 and now is on 15pc. Nothing wrong with a 50pc gain. Unless of course you consider it could have been a 100pc gain if the party's leader Gerry Adams had not made a mess of himself repeatedly undermining public confidence.

Those ubiquitous 'Independents and Others' remain on one-quarter of the vote. The Independents, as opposed to small parties, are on 16pc and for the rest: the AAA/PBP is on 3.6pc, the Green Party is double its 2011 take on 3.5pc; fledgling parties the Social Democrats are on 3pc and Renua is on 2.3pc.

The post-election focus will be upon all of this political mosaic.

Irish Independent

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