Monday 25 September 2017

An edgy wait to see who looks good on the Dáil dancefloor

If Micheál Martin is more open to Sinn Féin then it brings a host of opportunities. Photo: Collins Dublin, Gareth Chaney
If Micheál Martin is more open to Sinn Féin then it brings a host of opportunities. Photo: Collins Dublin, Gareth Chaney

Johnny Fallon

Political parties have been so busy talking about who will pair off with who in government that they would put a hormone-fuelled teenage disco to shame. The truth is that the public is not overly concerned by such thoughts. However, for strategists it is very important. It is like setting out the ground rules so they can prepare their line of attack.

Fine Gael have a plan ready. It will suit them perfectly if this election becomes a head-to-head with Sinn Féin. FG know that they will not lose votes to Sinn Féin. If they do lose votes then it is likely to be to Fianna Fáil - perhaps some of the old FF vote that went to FG in 2011.

Fine Gael therefore suggest Fianna Fáil will go into government with the Sinn Féin. They believe that, if Fianna Fáil do hint that they are amenable to a deal, then FG can say that the only way for voters to ensure stability and block the Shinners is to vote Fine Gael. However, if Fianna Fáil run away from the suggestion, then the opposition is neatly divided and FF become completely irrelevant to the debate. Fine Gael can focus on the Sinn Féin bogeyman and Fianna Fáil become little more than another option for Fine Gael when the voting is done. The only risk to their plan is if Fianna Fáil can form some kind of credible opposition.

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