So, how is the new government doing?
Enda’s Seanad nominations were very creative, it has to be said. The British Queen’s visit was handled very well, and President Obama’s day-trip didn’t do us any harm either. On domestic policy, the government is sounding very reforming on the public sector, and Phil Hogan’s clear statement that water charges will not be flat-rated is a solid win, provided they mean it. They also seem to remain committed to Seanad abolition and some other worthwhile political reforms.
The actions of the government is very different from its tone during the election. Within days of taking office they abandoned a promise to give the Dail real power over semi-state appointments, and pretty much said that they’d appoint people to state boards in the same way that Fianna Fail did. We also witnessed the novelty of a Labour government appointing fewer female cabinet ministers than a Fianna Fail one. As for the bailout: Enda has said that the banking debt will be paid in full and on time. Pity he wasn’t that clear in the run up to the election. Fine Gael’s old southern “Jim Crow” attempt to prevent voters from being able to vote for certain political opponents in the presidential election is not, in fairness, a broken promise, just shoddy. It’s not Fine Gael’s job to nominate its enemies, but to actually conspire to prevent them getting onto the ballot? It’s the sort of thing old Fianna Fail would do with relish. If that’s the yardstick Fine Gael want to be measured by, then fair enough.
Also: Are Labour struggling to define themselves? Both Ruairi Quinn and Brendan Howlin seem to be making the running for Labour, both sounding like members of a newly reinvigorated Garret wing of Fine Gael rather than Labour. I’m not complaining, I’m just saying.
Having said all that, it has to be recognised that it is still very early days for the government, and I’m still giving them the benefit of the doubt, especially as there are clear markers which will tell us if they have delivered as a government.
1. Unemployment will be down.
2. Individual citizens will have more actual power over politicians.
3. The Dail will be able to openly defy the government on issues.
4. The Seanad will have been abolished, or be unrecognizable in a new form.
5. Finally, our combined national debt will cost us less.
There’s the five markers. If they can tick those five boxes, they’ll deserve a second term.