The Green Party has suffered primarily because it has born the brunt of unpopular cutbacks and tax rises. Yet at the same time, Fine Gael and Labour have managed to benefit from that public anger whilst deftly sidestepping the bleeding obvious question as to what cutbacks would they reverse, and how would they pay for them?
Fianna Fail seem to be paralysed and out of ideas, incapable of thinking outside the box, so it is up to the Greens to do voters a service by asking these obvious questions. But how? One idea would be for the government to offer to publish the next budget in draft form before it is enacted, and then offer to genuinely debate and consider amendments. The government could provide Department of Finance assistance to the opposition to cost any proposed changes to it.
This is not a radical idea in other countries: The US Congress debates the budget for months before enactment, and they’re a proper country. Sure, the opposition may refuse to participate, but then how can they complain about cutbacks when they refuse to amend them when given the opportunity? Imagine the theatre of Brian Lenihan asking for amendments, and then the Govt benches sitting quietly as the opposition rant and rave to avoid giving any. It will at least force FG and Labour to confront the issue.