So, a quick snapshot on where the parties stand after the election:
Fine Gael and Fianna Fail: both need to tread carefully (or should that be thread, given the complexity?) Fine Gael need to ease off on the We Won The Election, because this election was about them and they were clearly rejected. Having said that, FF want to cool off on the We Doubled Our Seats So We Obviously Won thing too. Don’t forget, FG got a kicking, but are less unpopular than FF because they got more votes than they did. That’s how we tell.
The first party to start showing a bit of humility will gain.
Both parties are like Captain Kirk and that Giant Lizard (readers can decide who is who), circling each other looking for the advantage. Both are also aware that all options come booby-trapped. A grand coalition will help the Shinners, a minority government may end up being responsibility without power for either party, and another election is really the nuclear option.
This still all feels like we haven’t started yet.
Sinn Fein: have nicely extracted themselves from responsibility for government and with new voices like Eoin O’Broin and Donnchadh O’ Laoghaire are set for the long haul. The future of Gerry is the next big issue for SF: they know he’s the obstacle to breakthrough.
Labour: a nice lie-down in a dark room will do Labour the world of good. Staying out of government is a good idea.
The Social Democrats and the Greens: both parties have the same problem. As Catherine Martin’s extraordinary performance in Dublin Rathdown showed, the Greens have managed to claw back their transfer friendliness. Both parties should be very weary of getting involved in government if another election is on the way, as it’s not unreasonable that both parties could pick up votes from a bad tempered electorate in another poll.
The Independents: the Mala of the Dail, to be moulded as needed? What’s interesting is that the Independents fortune can change so rapidly. If you are needed for government formation, you’re valuable. If you aren’t, and other Inds are seen to be bringing back the pork, it’s time to sweat. Let’s not forget that the country is littered with former one-term Independent TDs going all the way back to Sean Dublin Bay Rockall Loftus.