A lot, possibly the majority, of Irish political discourse is theatrical waffle. Take, for example, the last general election in 2011. In it, we ousted the sitting government, and replaced them with a coalition that promised many diametrically opposed policies. Following the election, we found ourselves in a situation where parties swapped sides of the house, but the policies remained in place. The new government adopted Fianna Fáil policies, and Fianna Fail started advocating policies which are pretty much a variation of what Fine Gael and Labour allegedly believed when they weren’t in government.
In short, it makes you wonder what the point of actually holding the election actually was? The answer, of course, was revenge. We got to kick the shit out of a load of Fianna Fáil ministers and destroy their careers. Now, as a sport that’s fair enough. But did it contribute in any way to the better governing of the country? You’d have to be skeptical. But supposing if Fianna Fáil were still in government even now?
Supposing the Dail was elected for 10 year terms, and Fianna Fáil were still in power, trying to fix what happened on their watch? Would we be better or worse off? I’m not sure. Certainly, a longer term would mean that either FF were forced to fix stuff, or that FG and Labour, if there was an election, would have a good ten years to fix FF’s mess, with time to “front-load” all the really painful stuff.
In a way, trapping FF in government, forcing them to do all the really hard stuff, and watching their poll rating dwindle to Labour levels would be almost like a form of political Chinese water torture. Could be good for a laugh, and certainly more poetically just than watching them recover by denouncing their own policies. Of course, the downside would be that Labour would be still in opposition and reaching explosive levels of sanctimonious indignity. Gilmore for Taoiseach? It’d be Gilmore for Emperor by now.
Either way, it does raise a question: would there be much of a downside if general elections were much further apart? Given the general uselessness of the Oireachtas, the answer is probably not.
The only people who would really have their noses out of joint would be aspiring political hacks.