Spectral scenarios or sweet dreams
As the campaign moves into first gear we are in a bit of a state of flux when it comes to the next election.
Normally, we have some idea as to how the political parties are set. Normally, at such times someone has a slight wind at their backs.
But there again when have things been normal in Irish politics.
In our case, anyway, as the political horses fret and sweat up on the starting line, it is still unclear whether the ever-forgiving Irish voters will give Sinn Fein a pass on the rape and child abuse troubles. Or will they instead forgive Fine Gael for Enda?
Is it really all over for Fianna Fail and Labour or will our multi-hued Independents define the shape of the next government?
So who, if anyone, is on the front foot?
FINE GAEL PREPARES TO BE COMEBACK KINGS
Having diced with the prospect of winning fewer seats than the great meltdown of 2002 the party are praying that a rolling barrage of good news stories and no more debacles will facilitate the greatest political comeback since the Prodigal Son.
For now the signs, to put it mildly, are equivocal. Sadly, for as long as Enda leads they are likely to remain that way.
FIANNA FAIL EMBALMED BY HISTORY
The feel-good factor surrounding Fianna Fail's local elections victory has swiftly evaporated. Instead, as the former dominant party of Irish politics hovers eternally below the breakthrough 20pc mark FF increasingly resemble the embalmed radicals of Irish politics who can neither grow nor be destroyed. If they are to seduce the electorate they will have to make a compelling move shortly.
THE SINN FEIN SCIENTOLOGISTS
Sinn Fein's surge has, for now, been halted. That will not excessively distress a party that likes to leap in incremental stages. For now Sinn Fein's objective is to be the lead opposition party after the next election. If they are not careful though the ineptitude of their opponents could allow those disciplined Sinn Fein Scientologists to slip through the gap and secure lead party status. Then the fun will really start.
LABOUR FIGHTS THE GREEN MELTDOWN GENIE
For Labour the most un-nerving feature of their struggle to escape the same fate as the Greens is the growing indifference the citizens feel towards them.
As FG now even attempt to steal the party's much derided gay marriage clothes suddenly Labour is struggling to have a story.
And a party without a narrative is going to struggle in a crowded field to attract the attention of their already disappeared voters. The fact that the voters no longer hate them is not a good news story either for in 2011 the electorate were similarly neutral when it came to the Greens ... for all the good it did them
THE INDEPENDENT WILDCARDS
We nearly preferred them when they weren't setting up parties. However as Lucinda goes to war with the Ross, Finian Mc Grath, Fitzmaurice led jumble of opposites and Stephen Donnelly limbers up on the sidelines the good old fashioned Country and Western style Independent is almost extinct.
The main parties might, though, be wise not to be too cutting about our Independents. They might yet be the third or the fourth leg of whatever form of Coalition is required after 2015.
THE SPECTRAL SCENARIOS
Sadly, unlike fairy tales not every election ends happily.
Sometimes the witch does get to put Hansel and Gretel in the cooking pot.
So what are the results that will cause our leaders blood to curdle? And more importantly still what set of circumstances might have the same impact on Paddy?
FOR THE VOTERS
John Drennan's Guide to Politics - Spring 2015
The next election will change your life. In a special supplement with the Sunday Independent, John Drennan presents his guide to Irish politics.
Guide To Politics
- And they're off: the great election race begins but, as to where it ends, sadly nobody knows
- The key issues - Remember tax reform is not illegal, Enda
- It's like a talent show - you have to make the audience want you
- Could our interrupted revolution lie in the humanising of our politicians?
- 'It's awful losing your seat, it's a very public humiliation...'
- Too early to rule out FG/SF Coalition
- Shadowy back room boys and girls with the ear of ministers
- Enda and Joan's shaky house of cabinet cards
- Despite Enda's stated preference Easter 2016 not yet definite
- As they hatch their plans, what might be the hopes and ambitions of our party schemers?
- Battle of the leaders to be key deciding factor in election race
- Spectral scenarios or sweet dreams
- When the fuss is over who will be the winner?
The Gender Gap
The Generation Game
A hung Dail and another election in six months.
FOR SINN FEIN
What will Gerry do if Sinn Fein becomes the biggest party and they are faced with the responsibility of forming a government and attempting to implement their policies?
FOR FIANNA FAIL
Being forced to go into Coalition with Fine Gael or worse still Sinn Fein as the junior partners.
FOR FINE GAEL
The party fails to be returned to power and Enda states his intention to retain the leadership.
Being forced to go into Coalition with Sinn Fein ... or worse still Lucinda.
With a week to go, rather like 1997 Paddy gets nervous and starts sidling up to Fine Gael and Labour twisting his cap, apologizing and promising Enda, Simon and the rest of the Fine Gael aristocrats the vote.