I wonder, but do Eamonn Gilmore and Enda Kenny have to watch out? After all, if both party leaders become the de facto viable choices for Taoiseach (Michael isn’t, for obvious reasons), and start to actually see each other as the chief rival, what happens when the smoke clears and they have to do the business? I’ve no doubt that they will: After all, when the lights go up at the end of the night in the disco, lads get desperate and one is always shocked at who goes home with whom, but think of the reaction of voters. They never forgave Dick Spring for spending the 1992 campaign savaging Fianna Fail, and then propping them up. What happens if they get too vicious, with each party promising their voters that the other guys policies are unacceptable, and then putting them in?
By the way, the more I think of it, and I’m changing my mind here on things I’ve written about previously (yes, I’m allowed do that) the more I think that Martin’s offer of propping up a minority Fine Gael government is a con. Follow it through to its logical conclusion: Fine Gael in government on their own means that Labour will be the opposition, and that surely cements Labour as the clear alternative government. It also relegates Fianna Fail to possible permanent third party status as a slightly sleazy version of the Liberal Democrats. Fine Gael becomes the clear home of business and centre right voters (and more importantly, fund raising money) and Labour becomes the social democratic alternative. Fianna Fail may never recover, because their natural demographic (as opposed to historical) base may have somewhere else to go for better representation.
In short, if only for the fact that Irish governments always lose support over their life time, Fianna Fail’s long term interest is in making sure that Fine Gael and Labour join each other in government. The fact that we may end up with some constituencies that only have government TDs won’t do Fianna Fail any harm either.