As we go to press, a variety of opinion polls suggest a political stalemate beckons once the votes are counted and the 32nd Dáil is elected this weekend.
Unless the polls prove spectacularly off the mark, the prospect of Fine Gael and Labour retaining a majority looks unlikely, and even if they were guaranteed the support of both Renua and the Social Democrats, it still doesn’t look like they’d have a majority of seats in the Lower House.
The prospect of another election in this calendar year is a strong possibility, according to the bookies, and with Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael’s leaders equally adamant that they’ll not enter coalition, an alternative workable majority looks most uncertain.
Back in 1989, as a last resort, the Progressive Democrats, under Des O’Malley’s leadership, coalesced with Charles Haughey’s Fianna Fáil, despite the loathsome animosity that existed between both men.
Outgoing Waterford Fine Gael TD John Deasy has told this newspaper that such a partnership should not be automatically dismissed and when the dust settles, as the parties intake the fresh political air, acting ‘in the national interest’ may well come into play.
Perhaps a minority Fine Gael-led government, with Tallaght Strategy-like support on key economic issues from Fianna Fáil along with those Independents from the FG and FF gene pool, may be possible.
This permitted governance between 1987 and 1989, and while it cost Alan Dukes his leadership of Fine Gael, historians have generally been kind to Dukes’ decision to do the responsible thing, as opposed to choosing the populist path.
Sinn Féin, allied to the Right2Change (and Right2Water) protest grouping, is keen on an alliance of what supporters would describe as the true left as opposed to the Labour/SIPTU position.
But Monday’s Irish Times/Ipsos/MRBI opinion poll, which showed SF support down four per cent to 15%, suggests that the ‘Sinn Féin surge’, which had been widely anticipated in recent months, may not yet prove as decisive as supporters had anticipated.
The result, at least from this juncture, suggests that Fine Gael and Labour’s strategy, which focused on stability and recovery, has not gained any traction whatsoever with those questioned by the pollsters.
And with global economic indicators far from secure at present, just as our own economy shows positive steps forward, this feels eerily reminiscent of the 1980s.
Public anger is understandable, but anger isn’t a policy. Anger won’t create a job, nor sustain one..
As for the Waterford contest, Paudie Coffey would appear to be our best chance at landing a cabinet post in an FG-led government, but if he is squeezed out by neighbour Mary Butler (FF), will our investment chances be diminished?
John Deasy is looking very secure in West Waterford, and John Halligan’s strong parliamentary performances means he is likely to be returned to the Dáil.
David Cullinane’s Seanad profile certainly puts him in contention to land a historic seat gain for Sinn Féin, with Labour’s Ciara Conway facing a major battle to retain her seat. The East/West breakdown and who will prove most transfer friendly provides food aplenty for thought ahead of Saturday’s count.
Waterford has surely had its fill of suffering. The prospect of ministerial representation as a bulwark against further bad outcomes for our city and county ought to be taken into account. And we feel that voters should bear that in mind when casting their ballot on Friday.