Friday 24 November 2017

Michael McDowell: Time for a new political party to step forward

The need and desire exists but the task will require great skill and for people to re-engage with democracy

Michael McDowell

IT should not come as a surprise to anyone that a majority of people now appears to favour the formation of a new political party. Falling satisfaction with the Government, combined with growing evidence that the coalition parties have fallen out of love with each other and have taken instead to the role of partners in a deeply unhappy marriage, triggers the question in many people's minds as to what they would do with their vote if a general election were to be called in the medium term.

Fianna Fail and Fine Gael, the Civil War parties, have many features in common. Ideologically, there is very little to distinguish them – especially in their response to the banking and economic crisis. But perhaps the most important thing they have in common is an absolutely rigid and almost genetic unwillingness to enter into coalition with each other in the manner suggested perhaps 30 years ago by the late and great John Kelly.

If the two Civil War parties were to form a coalition, unless they merged into a single party, it would spell the death of one of them. In a curious form of political symbiosis, each needs the other to survive. At the last election, the Labour Party lost its greatest ever opportunity to become the leading party of opposition, and ultimately the leading party in government, because its leadership chose seats at the Cabinet table at the expense of a transformed future for their party.

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