It looks like some new pacts have emerged in the wake of the local elections. The French have a saying of plus ca change – nothing much changes.
The electorate were certainly up to giving the government a lesson and did so overwhelmingly with Fianna Fail controlling hardly any councils and the Greens losing most of their seats.
Waterford City saw its Fine Gael and Labour pact remain intact but include some of the high polling Independents. John Hallligan rightly got the Mayoralty after his terrific showing.
As a Workers Party candidate this was always denied him in the past as they have been excluded from Mayoral pacts. The Independents now comprise one third of Waterford City Council from just three last time out, with Sinn Fein and Workers Party losing a seat to Independents.
Over in Tramore poll topping former Mayor Joe Conway lost out for the top job, with a Fine Gael / Labour pact seeing off his challenge. Blaise Hannigan, who proposed him for Mayor, engaged in a protest walk out along with fellow Independent Pat Finnerty. Fine Gael with their 4 seats plus Labour’s one means they control the council.
The previous council had recommended that the top five vote-getters would each serve as Mayor but politics is a different game. After an election the game can change and new possibilities emerge. Fine Gael and Labour have thus decided to share the spoils of majority control.
Among the public there may be a different view, in the city there is general consensus that John Halligan was a deserving candidate.
In Tramore it was probably expected that Joe Conway would have been the choice for Mayor or have the option for the first term, depending on circumstances. Now he will not get the opportunity and his high polling will have been a hollow victory.
In Dungarvan the Fine Gael / Labour domination continues. Politics is a tough game if you come out the losing side and it can be frustrating. Mayors should be judged on what they can achieve and bring to office.
The public know that they are badly governed nationally at the moment and will be looking for some better leadership at a local level.
In the era of cutbacks, taking power also means taking responsibility and with public finances in such difficulty, hard decisions have to be taken. The wish for power is there, but there can be a downside.
In the Dail the vote of no confidence in the government last week was bound to end up in defeat. Would Fine Gael really want power in the near term and have to take hard decisions?
Can they come up with alternative proposals rather than just cast blame? That real test is still to come.
At a time of crisis it is sometimes more comfortable to be in opposition than in government having to take the real decisions.
The public will not be fooled, but would they vote for tough medicine. Judging by the local elections results the answer is probably negative, but there will be a realisation that times have changed and blaming will not solve it.