A few observations (or even questions) from the results yesterday:
1. Did the increase in the number of seats per Local Electoral Area (minimum of six seats) save Labour from an even greater wipeout? Seems to be a fair few Lab councillors taking 5th, 6th or 7th seats. Could there be a lesson here for the general election, especially as the Constitutional Convention specifically suggested that all constituencies should be a minimum of 5 seats?
2. Let’s not lose the run of ourselves: Although counting is still continuing, the parties that supported the Troika won about 56% of the vote, which would be a landslide in most other countries.
3. Sinn Fein’s continued rise means that Fine Gael and Fianna Fail have to start answering the coalition question, especially if the large number of Independents narrows the coalition choice. It’s hard to see FG voters tolerating an FG/SF coalition (or SF members/voters, for that matter) which means that the key question of Election 2016 is going to be: is a vote or preference for Fianna Fail a de facto proxy vote to put Sinn Fein into government? Fianna Fail can’t try to dismiss this question as an issue for post-vote closed door negotiations. The voters have a right to know the answer before we vote.
4. Micheal Martin seems to be in office in FF but not in power. First his senators ignored him, then his TDs told him what his policy on abortion was, and now Mary Hanafin is about to tell him who can and can’t be members of Fianna Fail. It raises a question: if he can’t stand up to Mary Hanafin, how could he possibly stand up to Sinn Fein?
5. The rise of the Independents is both fascinating and dangerous, especially as many voters seem to be projecting their own ideas of what Independents stand for onto Independent candidates who already have their own possibly different values. For example, how many pro-choice Independent voters don’t know that they voted yesterday for a pro-life candidate endorsed by the Life Institute? In a Dail with 25-30 Independents, things could go a bit loopy. It’s easy enough to buy off 3-4 with a few constituency sweeties, but not 10-15 with party TDs wondering what’s the point being in a party in the first place? More to the point, could we even see Independents demand places at cabinet in return for support? It’s happened before.
6. Are we about to see Labour rise up against its coalition partners? No, not those ones! Democratic Left!
The next two years won’t be boring, that’s for sure. Buckle up!
Additional: it’s a disgrace that we don’t have a proper electoral commission that publishes up-to-date election full count results online. And why are these counts taking so f**king long!