For reasons which will become more apparent soon, I have decided to give up on coverage of Irish Politics. This blog was never about the politics of Ireland, but in the run up to the General Election 2011, it made sense to get embedded in that. I’ll be returning to coverage of UK politics, economics and technology, but may now branch out in to things like culture, which will be a shock to the system for everyone.
I simply want to end my coverage of Irish politics with a few observations on the election, and on the state of the electorate itself.
State of the nation: Better than Libya. Just.
There is something incredibly inspiring about the way in which the Irish people dispatched with its failing government last week. The comprehensive routing of Fianna Fáil against the backdrop of instability in the Middle East and North Africa showed that an electorate engaged with the issues and confident on the cause of a problem can achieve great feats of previously unimagined political import; but it’s clear that the election is the beginning of a new phase in this crisis, not an end to it. It’s also clear that the new administration is elected on nerves rather than joy. The election of socialists in three seats was an expression of the quixotic over the considered; the election of Sinn Féin was a cry for help. The relatively poor showing of Labour (who were genuinely running their leader as a potential Taoiseach) was an indication of a badly out-of-touch campaign.
The eventual seat tally for Fine Gael must be seen in its context; people scurried towards the least worst option in their view. Ireland is today at peace, but it is by no means politically stable. As Labour and Fine Gael show their customary utter failure of imagination in setting a programme for government, the lack of a unifying political ideology will see this country edgy and on tenterhooks for years to come.