The people have spoken, Coalition must listen
The people have spoken and delivered a clear indication of their anger and disaffection. 'Austerity fatigue' has been a major factor in the backlash against the Government. The electorate is looking for a new kind of politics from a new kind of people. Taoiseach Enda Kenny insisted yesterday that the Coalition went into government "with eyes wide open", so the Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore, who has been punished for a series of broken promises, cannot excuse himself by saying he was unaware of the scale of the financial meltdown.
Mr Gilmore may survive in the short term. But the mid-term verdict of the Irish electorate will be deeply worrying and in terms of a general election could lead to a wipeout. According to the RTE exit poll, the mishandling of medical card reviews was the single most destructive controversy in the run up to the election. It crystallised the public view of a leadership lacking in sympathy for some of the most vulnerable in society. Even the 'squeezed middle', who traditionally support the mainstream political parties, defected in droves to Independents and others.
We are still borrowing €1bn a week and as long as the eyes of the troika remain focused on our public finances there is little chance of a 'give away' budget. Even if the Government can do little to put money back into people's pockets, it must do its business better and avoid the kind of banana skins best illustrated by the medical card debacle, the whistleblower controversy and the lack of clarity around the water charges.