Is a new party viable?

Rise, Lord Vader!

Rise, Lord Vader!

Rumours whirl about that Pat Cox and Michael McDowell are pondering the creation of a new political party. Let’s ask ourselves a few questions:

Do we need a new party? That depends on what you want to achieve. Certainly, a party that openly puts the interests of private sector workers ahead of farmers, public sector workers and the Fianna Fail class would attract a certain level of interest. Possibly based on the German FDP.

Who would potentially vote for it? Small businesspeople. Professionals. Private sector workers. Fine Gael supporters unimpressed by Enda. Law and Order types. Social Liberals who don’t like the way Labour keeps eying their wallets. Political reformers who recognise that our current system just isn’t working.  

Who would not vote for it? Public sector workers and their families. Farmers. Hardline catholics. Hardline nationalists. The permanently state funded (NGOs, etc).   

Could it win any seats? Possibly, in Dublin South, South East, Dun Laoghaire, and Cork South Central.

Who would run for it? Colm McCarthy? Emily O’Reilly? Shane Ross? Niamh Brennan? What’s John McGuinness doing these days? 

Possibilities or Pitfalls? Setting up a new party is very hard, very expensive, and would require an organisation. Secondly, the former PD flavour of it may automatically turn some people off. Thirdly, there would be a temptation to be populist (making promises they can’t keep) or even playing the anti EU or anti immigrant card, although both are unlikely under Cox and even under McDowell, who whilst being vaguely eurosceptic (although practically a federalist by British standards) takes a far tougher line on racism in private than many of his opponents would believe.

The party would have to be clear as to whom it would consider coalition with. On the plus side, FG support is almost certainly soft and crying out for something a bit tastier. Also, the Fourth Coming of Michael McDowell would be fun. Let’s not forget: Even in the dark days of the 2007 general election, the PDs got 56,000 votes. A party that accepted it had a modest appeal, and modest targets, that stayed pure to its voters as opposed to going for the classic Irish “Let’s agree with everyone and sort it out later” approach must have a fair crack at 10% of the vote.  

6 thoughts on “Is a new party viable?

  1. Jim, I don’t know, but I doubt it.

    Dan, I suspect it’s different for me being a former PD, in that within the PDs we didn’t seem to have as much shit as my pals in FF or FG have. I can remember people proposing policies which later on became the law, something FG people are probably unused to, and I can remember the party leadership being forced to account for their actions in govt, something FF members would know little about. The PDs weren’t perfect, but when you’ve known that access, it’s hard to want to then participate in the games that most of my FF and FG pals get involved in within their parties. I’d rather be involved in politics.

  2. I don’t believe that FG is unreformable, though I will admit it has been a long hard slog without much sign of progress on my part to date. Still, I’m persevere even if because I’m a glutton for punishment. There’s nothing quite like making a strong, articulate and evidence based argument for doing X and after being complimented for your passion and interest in the topic to be told that we’re doing Y because that’s what the policy review group, that you never heard about and pretty much no one else can remember being told about either apart from those who were given the nod, has decided we should do.

    And I’m sure that James “who lacks somewhat in the Law” will be along to say much the same about FF.

  3. I assume this is related to the terminally dormant
    I’m not sure I fancy their chances; we Irish don’t like fellas who think they’re smart, spouting ‘ideas’ and the like.

  4. Fianna Fail and Fine Gael are unreformable. Just ask Noel Dempsey or John Deasy.

  5. Or those people could seek to carry their argument into one of the existing parties and try and shape its appeal more towards those they believe are not heard at present.

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