It’s reasonable to say that Fianna Fail has had a good election. First, by not contesting, they have saved themselves a fortune in an election that will be pretty much forgotten as soon as President-elect Higgins is sworn in. In contrast, Fine Gael must be feeling humiliated and empty pocketed after the whole chastening experience. For them, it has certainly taken the shine off their general election win, and shown that hubris can be a terrible thing in Irish politics.
But there are lessons for Fianna Fail. Firstly, the party’s very satisfactory performance in the Dublin West by-election has shown that candidate selection still trumps party label in most Irish elections. Cllr. McGuinness’s message about not electing another government TD didn’t quite work, but was effective enough all the same for a party that had been comprehensively rejected a mere eight months ago. It shows that some wayward Fianna Fail voters are willing to return to the fold.
Having said that, they’d want to watch the “We’re back!” chanting at the count, which brings me to my second point. The reason that Sean Gallagher, the de facto FF candidate, lost, in my opinion, was because he started giving the classic Fianna Fail defence, ducking and diving and giving more and more convoluted answers. Fianna Failers don’t seem to know this, perhaps because they are so used to it, but trying to give clever “technically correct” answers to questions isn’t clever. It’s shifty, and it’s a trait FF needs rid itself of. For an example of someone trying to give technically correct clever answers to a question, and making himself look like a tool, watch this. FF would do themselves no harm watching, because it isn’t the scandal that gets you, it’s the cover up.
Fianna Fail candidate Lord Voldemort has welcomed the result in the Dublin West byelection, taking plaudits from Fianna Fail supporters who chanted “We’re back! We’re back!” at the election count yesterday. “This is a great day for our movement, whom so many had thought destroyed after the titanic struggle earlier this year which wrenched us from power and destroyed our regime. Yes, we have learned today that deep in the shadows our forces continue to gather, and plot our return to our rightful place ruling over this land and grinding our opponents under our heel. Onward, soldiers, to our destiny!” Voldemort also pledged to defeat the newly-elected President Dobby the Elf.
Fine Gael have responded to their poor performance in both the presidential and byelections by pointing out that the party has stuck firmly to its principles. “We are a party of traditions, and we have stood firmly by that principle. Admittedly, the tradition is one of losing elections, but it’s a tradition all the same.”
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