Friday 15 December 2017

Don't believe the hype: election was a victory for the centre, not for the Left

Fianna Fáil’s Lisa Chambers celebrates winning a seat in Enda Kenny’s Mayo heartland. (Photo: Gerry Mooney) General Election 2016 has not seen a shift to the left – Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael’s combined seat tally is almost the same as it was in 2011
Fianna Fáil’s Lisa Chambers celebrates winning a seat in Enda Kenny’s Mayo heartland. (Photo: Gerry Mooney) General Election 2016 has not seen a shift to the left – Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael’s combined seat tally is almost the same as it was in 2011
David Quinn

David Quinn

A diplomat recently expressed wonderment to me that there are no right-wing parties in Ireland. He wasn't thinking primarily of the likes of Geert Wilder's anti-immigration Party for Freedom in the Netherlands, although he did have it in mind. He was also thinking of centre-right parties like Nicolas Sarkozy's Republicans in France.

He considered Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael to be centrist parties without any real ideology. The Anti-Austerity Alliance calls them both 'right-wing' because, well, they have their doubts about Sinn Féin's ideological purity and flat out deny the left-wing credentials of Labour.

This election wasn't a battle between left and right as such at all. It was a battle between the centre and the left and, seen in this light, it was very much a victory for the centre, especially when you consider the big votes that went to Independents like Michael and Danny Healy-Rae, Mattie McGrath and Michael Fitzmaurice.

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