Sunday 21 January 2018

When the fuss is over who will be the winner?

Michael Fitzmaurice, Independent deputy for Roscommon-South Leitrim
Michael Fitzmaurice, Independent deputy for Roscommon-South Leitrim
Joan Burton
Lucinda Creighton
Shane Ross
John Drennan

John Drennan

Only a fool or a madman would dare predict what will happen in an election, due to happen at some indeterminate point in the future, after a series of yet to be decided domestic and international dramas and where in passing we do not know how many parties will be involved.

In the wake of the recent Sunday Independent Millward Brown poll, the research of political analyst Adrian Kavanagh suggests the government generation game is now down to Fine Gael (46 seats) Sinn Fein (45) and Fianna Fail with 34.

Poor Labour would be left isolated with a single humble seat whilst any Dail would be treated to the delights of 33 Independents.

On those figures our alternatives are more terrifying than the night visions of a Labour TD.

One might not love the Grumpy Old Men, but the prospect of a Fine Gael / Sinn Fein scream, apologies, dream team or a fractious Fianna Fail Fine Gael union of inconvenience is dismal.

As for the prospect of a Sinn Fein / Fianna Fail coalition of opportunism, not even the prospect of Taoiseach Mary Lou can rescue that one from the political chamber of horrors.

However, the political outlook may be somewhat more febrile.

Like doctors, poll analysts differ though thankfully in our case nothing except for the dreams of a few politicians die.

Outside of noting that it can be contended the Sinn Fein and Fianna Fail seat projections appear to be somewhat overstated and Labour's potential radically understated - with 6pc if the ball falls right you can win quite a few seats - we are still when it comes to election 2016 predictions trying to hit a moving target.

Worse still for political gurus there are more than a few other rogue elements when it comes to the moving target of the next election.

In particular the evolution of the Independent alternative may be the trap that will snap the neck of more than a few plans of our political mice and men.

Much, when it comes to future coalition building depends on whether the strange Tripartite Alliance of Shane Ross, Finian McGrath and Michael Fitzmaurice or the Lucinda Creighton led political alternatives can gather the loose independent sheep into a tasty little bundle.

Both, depending on how well they organize, have the capacity to reach double figures should they maximize their resources.

That could be a matter of little consequence if the only coalition alternatives are provided by the current big three.

However, all those plans will be blown to smithereens, if we experience a year of modest, let alone immodest, prosperity.

The possibility of a change on the current landscape is further enhanced by the rickety state of two of the legs of the current political three legged stool.

Should we experience some immodest prosperity, Fianna Fail in particular could be in a world of trouble.

The party are even now after a year of Fine Gael traumas over cronyism in a dangerously equivocal place.

Fianna Fail is not yet detached from the herd.

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.

But, they are struggling to craft a narrative.

And they can also be assured that in 2015 all their sins will be conjured up by the most expensive magicians of spin that the tax payers can conjure up.

Should FF begin to slide, far from targeting the ailing Labour party public sector vote, they may shockingly find themselves struggling to hold the widow's mite that they currently have.

Sinn Fein also know their position is less than certain.

To borrow a military metaphor, they have advanced further into the heart of middle Ireland than expected.

But, middle Ireland is a vast country which is impossible to securely hold and susceptible to great extremes of heat and cold.

Sinn Fein's political supply lines are dangerously over-stretched and they are short on reserves in a remarkably similar fashion to Mr Gilmore in 2010.

As with Fianna Fail, some of that modest prosperity is the pin that will prick their bubble.

If breakfast roll man gets steady employment and a bit on the side from the black market where is his incentive to vote for a failed political experiment, a dangerous untried experiment or the anti-austerity alliance.

However, breakfast roll man and middle Ireland will also be less than keen to reward the Coalition and Dear Leader Enda for the many indignities they have experienced.

Ultimately the biggest rogue element when it comes to any pre-election prognostications are Labour. The poor old Boxers of the Coalition have been safely consigned to Green meltdown country.

However Labour are also the great survivalists.

Should Labour rise towards 12pc suddenly they will be back in the game.

As of now, Labour would bite the hand off you if they were offered the opportunity to return with twenty seats.

Fine Gael's own troubles mean it would not be enough to secure a return of the Coalition.

Instead Paddy will find himself facing into the prospect of being governed by a new Troika.

This time, it will be a home-grown one, as if that is any consolation.

Still if Enda and Joan have to wince at getting into bed with Shane or Lucinda they could be consoled by one delight.

Sinn Fein and Fianna Fail can spend five years getting to know each other a whole lot better on the opposition benches.

Sunday Independent

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