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Patriots in Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael should be talking to each other about an FF/FG coalition.

Posted by Jason O on Feb 22, 2013 in Irish Politics |

Picture the scene. It’s the week after Election 2016. Both Fine Gael and the Labour Party have suffered very significant losses, depriving the coalition of a majority without the support of  a large number of independents demanding expensive special treatment for their constituencies. Sinn Fein have won enough seats to form a majority with either FF or FG. And suppose Labour have taken such a battering that they do not wish to go back into another government.

In such a situation, it is hard to imagine Michael Martin honestly claim that Sinn Fein is closer in values than FG, and that FF is more comfortable in the company of former terrorists with a left wing economic platform, or that FF has a bigger problem with Alan Shatter as justice minister than Martin Ferris. Is there anyone who really believes that if one room held four FG negotiators, and another four Sinn Fein ones, that  an FF team would actually have an easier time negotiating a programme for government with SF? And no, just repeating the vague and shapeless shibboleth word “republican” does not actually count for anything. Can anyone name what exactly would be the fundamentally intractable legislative problem that Michael McGrath, Michael Noonan, Willie O’Dea and Phil Hogan would be incapable of overcoming, jackets off, around a table?

That’s not to say that it will be easy. There’s a lot of history on the table. But that’s all it is, and if there are men or women in either party unwilling to put that history aside in the interest of forming a centrist progressive government with solid democratic credentials, they are not patriots and have no place in either party.

Sensible people in FF and FG should be quietly preparing the ground behind the scenes, and making sure that neither party says anything stupid which they might have held against them in a post election scenario. Yes, we are potentially years away (assuming Labour doesn’t have a nervous breakdown) from an election, but this needs patriots in both parties to start thinking the unthinkable, from policy issues to an eventual constituency pact, because neither parties’ historical hangups overrule Ireland.

5 Comments

William
Feb 22, 2013 at 8:56 am

I don’t really see such a need for groundwork, there’s a long history of parties saying petty and critical things before going into coalition. The 2016 election should be fought in the normal adversarial way. If we’re together after that, then we can worry about constituency pacts next time.

My preference would still be for FG/Labour, but as Lab just might not have the seats, I’m quite willing to countenance FG/FF.


 
Daniel Sullivan
Feb 22, 2013 at 9:17 am

I can’t disagree with that.


 
Michael
Feb 23, 2013 at 2:20 am

I assume this will not happen, because so long as FF is the smaller party it would be against their party political competitive interests versus both Labour and Fine Gael. Ditty for FG is FF pulled ahead/remained ahead in polling.


 
Peggy
Feb 23, 2013 at 10:31 pm

The flaw in your piece is that there might be “sensible” people in FF. There are only, and for 40 years there have only been, power-mad incompetents. The deluding leading the deluded. One of the great advantages of literacy, immigration, the Internet and evolution is the exposure of FF-ism as the vacuous Peronism of the Northern Hemisphere. Come on, do you sincerely think that there is a single FF-er alive in this nation who believes that s/he has a single novel worthwhile suggestion for the good governance of this nation? You know they exist only to lie in wait and oppose, even, no especially when in government. No, a coalition of the intelligent and honest, rather than a coalition as you suggest, will always be better.


 
David
Feb 24, 2013 at 8:29 pm

I disagree on one point. Why would either party feel the need to adapt and form a “centrist progressive government” without a junior coalition partner to drag them there?


 

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