Irish voters reject establishment austerity policies

This 1918 silent video is called Countess Markievicz Sinn Fein – Only Woman Returned In Irish Elections 1918.

From Reuters news agency:

Ireland Voters Oust Ruling Coalition In Rejection Of Austerity

Ireland is the latest European nation to be swept into turmoil over austerity.

02/27/2016 08:08 pm ET

By Padraic Halpin and William James

DUBLIN (Reuters) – Ireland’s ruling coalition was ousted by voters angry at the country’s uneven recovery, results indicated on Saturday, leaving Prime Minister Enda Kenny facing the unpalatable prospect of trying to secure a deal with his biggest rival.

His government appeared to be the latest victim of European voters’ growing antipathy to mainstream politics, hit by a backlash against years of austerity and a perception that Ireland’s poor are not benefiting from the fastest economic growth in Europe.

Exit polls suggested the only viable option may be a problematic alliance of old rivals Fianna Fail and Kenny’s Fine Gael – although even their combined support was set to fall below 50 percent of the vote for the first time.

If neither side is able to form a government, however, fresh elections would have to be called.

“The government of Fine Gael and Labour cannot be returned,” Kenny told journalists late on Saturday. …

The center-right Fine Gael captured 26 percent of first preference votes when 38 of 40 constituencies were counted. That is far below the 36 percent it won five years ago and the 30 percent opinion poll rating it had at the start of campaigning.

Current coalition partner Labour was in line to win just 7 percent of the ballot, which spending minister Brendan Howlin said meant they were out of the equation for the next government.

Fianna Fail was set to rise to 25 percent.

“It was certainly worse than my worst fears,” Health Minister Leo Varadkar, a senior member of Fine Gael. He said there was very little support for a Fine Gael-Fianna Fail coalition, but he refused to rule it out.


However, Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin hinted that he would first try to form a government with other groups.

Analysts said a coalition of Fine Gael and Fianna Fail – heirs to opposing sides in a civil war almost a century ago – was the only option.

While the parties have few policy differences, one minister described the prospect as a “nightmare” during the campaign.

Others fear it would allow left-wing Sinn Fein, the former political arm of the Irish Republican Army, which polled at 15-16 percent, to establish itself as the main opposition party.

Fine Gael strategist Mark Mortell said Kenny would “hold off making phone calls” until early next week but that there was a very high risk of a second election this year.

The first of 157 seats was declared at 10.30 a.m. ET with the final winners potentially not decided until early next week.


Framed as a debate over how to distribute the profits of accelerating economic growth, Kenny’s campaign to “keep the recovery going” rang hollow with many voters yet to feel any benefit after years of spending cuts and tax rises.

“There’s total disillusionment with party politics. The independents and the smaller parties seem to be almost like the last hope for the country,” said John McKeever, a voter in Dublin. “It’s not a recovery for a good 30-40 percent of the country. It’s a rich man’s recovery.”

The exit polls suggested a major transformation had occurred in the party system as a result, just weeks before the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising, the most dramatic chapter of Ireland’s struggle for independence from Britain.

Fine Gael and Fianna Fail, which have swapped power since the state’s foundation, and Labour, the junior partner in many governments, were shunned in favor of independent candidates, smaller parties and the rising Sinn Fein.

At the start of the last parliament in 2011, the three parties held 80 percent of the seats.

“We’re seeing a collapse of the two-and-half party system,” said Paul Murphy, a member of one of the likely beneficiaries, the left-wing Anti Austerity Alliance and People Before Profit group.

The results echo recent elections in Portugal and Spain, where anger at austerity, perceptions of rising inequality and mistrust of established political elites left parliaments fragmented and parties struggling to form governments.

Left and anti-austerity sentiment produces political earthquake in Ireland: here.

Enda Kenny, the leader of Fine Gael in the Irish Republic, formed a minority government May 6 after securing a guarantee by Fianna Fail that they would abstain from voting against him as Taoiseach (prime minister): here.

13 thoughts on “Irish voters reject establishment austerity policies

  1. Monday 29th February 2016

    posted by Morning Star in World

    by Our Foreign Desk

    FINE GAEL leader Enda Kenny acknowledged yesterday that general election setbacks meant an end to his party’s Irish governing coalition with Labour.

    The Taoiseach said that, with the count continuing into this morning because of recounts and rechecks, he would take time to evaluate the situation before making a decision on the future of himself and his party.

    For the first time in the history of the republic, the two main parties since the civil war, Fine Gael and Fianna Fail, have attracted less than half of the votes between them.

    Their combined share was 49.9 per cent, but Fine Gael is expected to win just 31 seats and Fianna Fail 30 in the 166-seat parliament.

    But the biggest price for the anti-working class policies of the coalition government was paid by Labour, which has sunk to its lowest ebb and could win just four seats.

    Seven are needed to be regarded as a parliamentary group with speaking rights and this is the goal of various left-wing coalitions and independent MPs.

    Independent Alliance candidates Shane Ross, Sean Canney, John Halligan and Michael Fitzmaurice were elected in Dublin Rathdown, Galway East, Waterford, and Roscommon Galway respectively.

    Richard Boyd Barrett of Anti-Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit (AAA-PBP) increased his vote again to take a seat in Dun Laoghaire.

    And Ruth Coppinger was re-elected in Dublin West, with the highest transfers putting her in second place after Fine Gael’s Leo Varadkar.

    There was even a renaissance for the Green Party for which Catherine Martin won the party’s first seat since 2007 in Dublin Rathdown.

    Sinn Fein is now the republic’s undisputed third electoral power, having taken 13.8 per cent of the votes.

    However, Mary Lou McDonald, who won in Dublin Central, said that Sinn Fein would not become a minority party in government but would remain in opposition.

    “We will not be the facilitators or enablers of Fianna Fail or Fine Gael to run rampant across an unequal society. In other words, we are very different from Labour,” she said.


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  4. Kenny keeps power as coalition agreed

    IRELAND: Discredited right-wing Taoiseach Enda Kenny was narrowly re-elected yesterday, after 70 days of deadlock, by 59 votes to 49 in Ireland’s 158-member parliament.

    His Fine Gael-led government will survive confidence votes only by virtue of support from its historical opponent Fianna Fail, which abstained.

    Mr Kenny has assembled a shaky coalition with independents, three of whom will get cabinet jobs.


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