Sunday, 27 March 2016

I'm scared that a FF-FG coalition might actually work!

Went off to London for a few days, came back, still no sign of a government. 

To an Englishman, it just doesn’t get more Irish than this. Dáil Éireann’s off for Easter, see you in April, have a mighty break! Why wouldn’t you?

No government, no rush, everyone’s having talks about talks, repeatedly adding numbers hoping they come to different totals, but numbers have that infuriating habit of not doing what they’re told.

Floating rudderless into the über-hyped Easter Rising Centennial, this nation could be on the brink of finally celebrating the end of its civil war, but ah sure, what’s the rush?

I grew up in a country where you sat up all election night and around dawn knew who’d won and lost. The First Past The Post electoral system is mightily flawed, but it is not mysterious.

To my mystified foreign eyes, the lethargy shown by Irish politicians towards forming a government is only matched by the resigned acceptance of the Irish people that this will take its time.

The way the Irish feel comfortable about having no government serves two purposes: firstly it illustrates yet again that - what a shock! - the world does not crumble without government; secondly, more seriously, it displaces the importance of your vote.

During all these blah protracted blah political blah negotiations, your vote becomes diluted, detached and finally traded away in negotiations that bear no reflection of the policies or ideals for which you voted.

Just after arriving here in 1992 there was a General Election, and I was deeply shocked back then at how long it took to form a government. 

Albert Reynolds eventually persuaded his supposed arch enemy, Labour’s Dick Spring, to jump into bed with him and my eyebrows have scarcely dropped since.

Back then, in my first flush of love for this country, I wrestled to grasp the essentials of Ireland’s unique political arena, writing in this noble rag of a cutesy analogy in which the pint had been poured, the votes cast, and in the fullness of time the division of head from body would appear.

Ah, young crushes are so adorable. I still love this country, but after 20-odd years, it’s more of a warts’n’all affair.

Now it feels less like we’re waiting for that pint to settle, and more as if the public merely unlocked the pub door, such was the influence of our individual votes. 

The politicians then cram the bar as they negotiate power, because that is what they desire. It matters not whether you have the jovial social skills of the Bertie or the gentleness of Corbyn in a cardigan, all politicians are people who seek power.

The games began and faced with what they disingenuously described as ‘trying to understand what the public said with these votes’ all the players behaved in exactly the same way, by reverting to type.

The Left disguised as PFP/AAA talk a lot of sense, but their air of the Judaean People’s Front and the People’s Front of Judaea unsettles me. 

Sinn Fein infuriatingly refuse to work with anyone else, which means the only time their policies might be tested is when they are running a majority government. Good luck with that. 

Lose mumbling number-bumbling Gerry and Martin too, a pair laden with more baggage than Ryanair, and move into the real world with Pearse Doherty (sorry Mary Lou!) at the helm.

Having sold their souls for power, the Labour Party, as the Greens and English LibDems before, have no type left to which they can revert, but Fine Gael’s identity is as strong as ever.

Enda has grown into his blue shirt, pumping out a pompous insistent and irritating pragmatism.

 “As Taoiseach I have responsibilities!” squeaks and puffs the acting Taoiseach, caretaker Taoiseach, soon to be rotating Taoiseach, inevitably then irrelevant Taoiseach.

The Treaty man in him demands order and he deludes himself that as long as he reminds everyone every time he speaks that Fine Gael is the largest party, we’ll believe it.

Ireland’s natural party of government has also reverted to type. 
Being a smug sod of the most hateful variety, I’m about to cite this colyoom from January, 2013:

“The only thing that was immediately and absolutely evident when the death of Fianna Fáil was announced after the last general election was that they would most certainly win the next.”

The chancers of Fianna Fáil didn’t win this election outright, yet from their position after the last, they have been the only winners, now able either to destabilize any minority government from opposition, or form a Grand Coalition. Fianna Fáil have what American politicos call Big Mo: with such momentum, they could win the next election.

Most say this Grand Coalition will never happen, more suggest it could never last, yet the other day a chill ran through me. Has anyone considered the possibility that it might work? 

If the pragmatists persuade the chancers to sign on the line, both parties might suss that as long as they manage to co-exist, they will remain in government?

To paraphrase the late Seán Lemass, the difference between the parties then would be that they were both in power. Imagine them campaigning together, under a heinous ‘One Nation Ireland’ banner.

There’d be no getting rid of them. Ireland would be stuck with a Rightist government, electorally impossible to displace. Now that (if you’ll pardon this Londoner once) scares the bejaysus out of me.

© Charlie Adley

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