Irish government nears collapse

After a strange 3 days of deliberations within the ruling Fianna Fail party, political events in Dublin are moving quickly this evening.

First, Prime Minister Brian Cowen decided that the deliberations had told him that in the interest of party and especially country, he should stay on as leader and PM.  But he upped the ante by proposing a vote of confidence in himself for Tuesday’s meeting of the parliamentary party.  The trouble with a “put up or shut up” move, as this was, is that someone might put up.  And so foreign minister Micheál Martin has offered his resignation, indicated he will vote against the Tuesday motion, and is in effect putting himself forward as an alternative leader.

Now the job of leader is to lose the next election gracefully, so the stakes may be higher for the party than the country.   Yet Cowen’s inability to shake off his own role in the run-up to Ireland’s economic crisis is becoming an impediment to progress on crisis resolution.  Incidentally, although this has the appearance of an IMF loan leading to the quick demise of the government that negotiated it, the IMF/EU package per se has not been a major issue.  In fact, the puzzle is that it took so long to get to this point. Nevertheless, the terms of the package will be a significant issue in the election.

Anyway, the bottom line in terms of news is that the Irish government’s planning for a 25 March election — after ministers had completed their St Patrick’s Day globetrotting — is now looking moot.  The election will be much sooner.  Our European partners should expect some new faces.

10 thoughts on “Irish government nears collapse

  1. Is a return of FG to power really new faces? Apart from the faces, aren’t we talking about the replacement of one conservative party with another? If anything FG is reputed to be slightly more neoliberal.

  2. Another question: Technically the government can go on and keep to the current schedule – election after budget and some other bill. The FF-Green coalition just has to use its majority in the Dail to elect another FF Prime minister. Could this happen?

  3. Having been to Ireland and knowing its history, I am absolutely devastated by, and appalled at this current generation of Irish who are obviously willing to place themselves in a position of involuntary servitude to the Euro bank/fraudsters for a generation or more. Have the Irish suddenly become a nation of wimps and pussies?

  4. The Irish are mostly a nation of people who happily participate din a real estate bubble. Like a lot of people did since the times of Ninive.

  5. i’ll jump in with a few replies.

    IM post 1: Yes and No. ireland doesnt really do left/right politics in the same way as most other european countries, as least as far as i know. i wouldnt call FF or FG a conservative party equivilent to the UK conservatives. both parties will shift left/right as they see it.

    IM post 2: Yes, obviously the legitimacy is under question. this is exactly how Brian cowen became taoiseach.

    AndyB: such a glib statement. its very farm from as black and white as you see it. i am thankfull that it appears the irish electrate is aware that this is a complicated situatiuon that is far from over.

  6. If anything FG is reputed to be slightly more neoliberal.

    The way I’d put it is that the economic right of FG stretches (in theory at least) to the right of the economic right of FF, but both parties are broad churches.

    The FF-Green coalition just has to use its majority in the Dail to elect another FF Prime minister. Could this happen?

    Unlikely. FF and the Greens along with their reliable supporters (a couple of semi-detached FFers and the ex-PD Health minister) don’t actually have a majority in the Dáil.

    They need the support of two pork-loving independents (one ex-FFer and one ex-FGer), who have already stated that they wouldn’t vote for another unelected prime minister.

    Getting rid of Cowen as party leader would involve either a situation where he continued on as Taoiseach while Mícheál Martin led FF from elsewhere in Cabinet, or an early election.

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