Saturday 18 November 2017

Political Notebook: FG leadership contest alters 'Game Theory' battle with FF

Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney Photo: Collins Dublin.
Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney Photo: Collins Dublin.
Jody Corcoran

Jody Corcoran

'Interesting move," a Fine Gael Cabinet minister told me by text last Saturday night, when he picked up an early edition of this newspaper, in reference to our story that Fianna Fail had threatened not to facilitate the election of a new Fine Gael Taoiseach unless the report of the Oireachtas water committee was legislated for by Environment Minister Simon Coveney.

His reaction betrays the reality: this minority Government is not functioning as it could or should, but essentially functions by what is called "Game Theory" - a game of rigorous strategic thinking between Fine Gael and Fianna Fail, each anticipating the other's next move, much of it counter-intuitive, knowing that the other is trying to do the same, both intent on outdoing the other.

In this regard, I have been as guilty as everybody else. Who wins and who loses is the game. Fine Gael is widely felt to have won the water "game". An analysis of the more recent twists and turns, since the formation of the water committee in fact, would certainly indicate that to be the case, although victory is far less clear-cut when the respective parties' water policy, since the general election, is taken into account.

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