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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Election Time

As an ardent follower of politics, whether Irish or international I have been following the current general election in my country with significant interest. Billed as the most important election since the foundation of this state it is hard to argue with the analysts predictions that this is going to mark a monumental change in the face of Irish politics. 

As I sit writing this only 7 of the 165 seats up for grabs in the parliament have been filled.  Since the foundation of the Irish state the largest party in the country has been the centrist Fianna Fáil party with the largest opposition being Finne Gael who have experienced terms of Government in coalition with the State's third largest Labour Party. However, owing to Ireland's well publicised Economic Meltdown Fianna Fáil has seen its share of the vote decimated with a projected seat count of just 17, less than a third of the 70 they had in the last Dáil (Parliament). This meltdown in the party's seat count has lead to a surge in support for almost every other party out there. 
The future leaser of Ireland-Enda Kenny
The Finne Gael Party a right wing, low tax, low spending party is certain to lead the next Government. In all likelihood they will be sharing power again with the Irish Labour Party a left wing Social Democratic Party.  While this is nothing that hasn't been done before it would have been unthinkable just 1 year ago to believe that the Fianna Fáil party would become the third largest party in the State. Indeed one of the major stories will now be if their vote may be overtaken by the extreme left wing Sinn Féin party, famous for alleged ties to the Republican IRA movement. Their seat count has been expected to triple to 15, buoyed by support from disaffected unemployed youths. 

On the ground in Ireland the mood of the Irish electorate has been one of anger. The turnout has been extremely high in some areas, over 80% with people registering their upset at the outgoing Fianna Fáil and Green Party administration. Indeed it would appear the Green Party may in fact face a total wipe out from the houses of Parliament with a projection of just one single seat. Socialist independents and the newly formed United Left Alliance are all expected to do well. 

As I have often cribbed (Irish politics in mildly Interesting Shocker), Irish politics can seem to be summed up by an old Irish saying , 6 of one or half a dozen of the other, however owing to the dire state of our economy the people have been motivated for change in a way that has never happened before. While the face of the next Government may not be something instantly recognisable as new, the seeds of real lasting reform are there, it remains to be seen in elections to come if they manage to grow.

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