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Editorial: 'Parties must be prepared to co-operate with each other'

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Leo Varadkar (Niall Carson/PA)

Leo Varadkar (Niall Carson/PA)

Leo Varadkar (Niall Carson/PA)

Something happens to sense once it is thrown into the tossed sea of electioneering.

Perfectly rational politicians slip their moorings, and their better judgment drifts further from reason.

They begin to behave as if somehow they can control outcomes and achieve predicted results merely by wishing them into existence.

Their aims are targeted through the arrow-slit of self-interest. In their frenzy of sniping they stop engaging with the larger landscape.

Excluded from their elaborately balanced equations are, of course, the decisions of the voters.

Enormous energy is currently being expended on "blue-sky thinking" and "gaming the opposition". But as somebody wise noted: an idea is not a plan. A plan is not action. Action is not results. Only results are results.

This means only the electorate can determine the complexion of the next government, though you might not think so, listening to party leaders.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was anxious to show himself as urbane and ready to shake off the dust of the Civil War when he said he would be willing to go into government with Fianna Fáil - or to support it in a confidence and supply arrangement in the next Dáil - should that be the only way to form a stable government. It is a reasonable offer.

But it may all have been a bit too "woke" for Micheál Martin, who was anxious to throw a bucket of cold water over any prospects of forming a "grand coalition" with Fine Gael. Having been beaten about the head by Mr Varadkar in the Dáil over the years, he may have felt enough is enough.

His party was only interested in creating a government with other "centre" parties such as Labour and the Greens. "People want change," he insisted, neatly ignoring the fact a "grand coalition" would arguably be the greatest political transformation in recent times. Meanwhile the leader of the country's current third most popular party, Mary Lou McDonald, was insisting Sinn Féin would not enter into a confidence and supply arrangement with either.

The fact there is such marked dissatisfaction and frustration among voters seems to be lost on our politicians who are too preoccupied with their own exclusive visions of power to notice. A dialogue over the heads of the voters, before a verdict has even been delivered, smacks of arrogance.

Democracy is a conversation with the people, decency demands you earn your mandate before you prescribe what type of government you plan.

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If leaders disregard the needs of an electorate, they can't be too shocked should voters return the slight. Those who stand for office may harbour an expectation, but they come a cropper once they show a sense of entitlement.

Social Democrats joint-leader Róisín Shortall warned yesterday Civil War politics would continue indefinitely unless parties of the left learn to co-operate more with each other. But for all parties the notion of co-operating with each other, after the voters have given their decision, ought not be such a radical notion.

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