Future of FF in Martin's hands
IT is difficult to think of a parallel to the circumstances in which Micheal Martin has become leader of Fianna Fail. As one foreign journalist described it, Mr Martin takes over, not as the new leader, but the new loser.
From his point of view, this has certain advantages. His position seems secure, however poor the election result. Indeed, if any of the large group of undecided plump for FF on polling day, what would once have been regarded as a disaster may be hailed as a triumph, with Mr Martin getting the credit.
Credit or no, Mr Martin's role for most of the next five years, we must presume, is that of leader of the opposition. But even that is not the automatic entitlement it would normally be. Fianna Fail's hands will be tied -- or, rather, its lips buttoned -- by a couple of things. It presided over -- and to a large degree caused -- the economic collapse. It drew up the four-year recovery plan and signed the rescue package with the EU/IMF. Its opposition to the economic policies of the new government will be constrained as a result.