The Irish elections took place on February 8. Jimmy Doran, trade union spokesperson and member of the Communist Party of Ireland (CPI) analyzes the possible results.
It is difficult to predict the outcome of this election definitively but here is our assessment. Despite the attacks on Sinn Fein by the media and the establishment parties, Sinn Fein is set to do very well in this election. They will become a major force in the next Parliament. They have not put up enough candidates to become the largest party in the next Parliament. They will require the support of other small left-wing groupings and independents to form a government.
The establishment parties have failed the people for over 100 years. They offer nothing but a two-tier society where 1 million people are on hospital waiting lists, wages are low, employment contracts are temporary, housing is beyond the affordability of ordinary working people. This leads to large scale dissatisfaction and has lead to the rise of Sinn Féin.
- If the numbers add up after the election and Sinn Fein manages to put together a coalition government of progressive left-wing parties, it will for the first time bring class politics into the equation. It will be the first-ever progressive left-wing government in the Irish state since the counter-revolution by the founders of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil after the war of independence from the British. Unfortunately, the so-called progressive left-wing parties in this country have consistently betrayed the working class and formed coalitions with right-wing parties.
- It is quite possible that after the election, Fianna Fáil which is most likely to be the larger of the two establishment parties will form a coalition with the Greens, Labour, Social Democrats and others whose aim is power and not social progress. This may result in Sinn Fein benig the main opposition party in the next Dáil. They may be better positioned to build on the support that they will get in this election from the opposition benches. A coalition of the multitude of people and parties claiming to be of the left would be very difficult to form and even more difficult to control.
- The other possibility would be that Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael would form a grand coalition possibly supported by others. This would lead to another right-wing government but also would mark the demise of the two-party system as FF and FG can no longer continue the narrative that they are different political entities with unique political aims. They would have to merge after a coalition of this type as it would be exposed that there are no differences between these two right-wing parties. This also would result in Sinn Fein being the main political opposition party which would bring a class analysis on to the opposition benches for the first time in the history of the State. Fine Gael look set to lose a number of their seats and do not look likely to be the lead party in any new government.
- The other alternative would be that Sinn Fein would join in coalition with one of the other main political parties, FF or FG. This would probably be the worst scenario for ordinary working people as Sinn Fein would move to the right to facilitate this. If they were to form a coalition with left-wing parties, it would move them more to the left or if they are put on the opposition benches, they would also drift to the left. Up until this Sinn Fein have been drifting to the right but after taking a hammering at the last European and local elections, they have formulated a broad progressive left-wing manifesto for this election and it seems to be paying off. So hopefully, they will continue this direction and it is probably better to do it from the opposition benches this time. The one thing that may stop this is the huge hunger and ambition Sinn Fein have for power.
It is likely whatever government is formed will be a weak government and probably will not last the full term. So Sinn Fein should be in the pole position for the next election.
The views in this article are of the author.