Friday 20 April 2018

Michael McDowell: Left, right or centre doesn't matter – people just want a party of substance

Ireland craves coherence and credibility – not a pop-up movement for the disillusioned, writes Michael McDowell

Michael McDowell

Given that "Anger is not a policy", as Colm McCarthy memorably pointed out on an RTE Frontline programme a few years ago, we should remember in the same vein that disillusionment is not a policy either. But if, as is clear, the electorate are feeling anger and disillusionment and a very sizeable portion of them want a new party, that political reality must ultimately be addressed.

If things simply go on as they are, Irish party politics will offer the electorate a set of very poor, unpalatable choices at the next general election in 2015 or early 2016. Labour's leadership seems to be on its "last lap" – many leading Labour figures will probably bow out before or at the next election. Labour's core support has weakened to the point that it seems likely to lose between one half and three-quarters of its seats next time out.

Similarly, FG seems likely to lose at least a quarter of its seats, even if it might cling on to the largest party spot. For two parties with two-thirds of the seats, the present Coalition now enjoys the support of just one-third of the electorate.

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