Historic, No Other Word For It

“Fianna Fáil will come back” – Micheál Martin.

Really, can you not take a hint?

It may come as a shock to overseas readers, but Fianna Fáil has, since its inception, always been the biggest party in the Irish parliament. Always. Until today.

Now they have fallen to second place, for the first time ever behind Fine Gael. This would have been unthinkable in almost any previous election.

And now they have fallen into third place, behind Labour. That was just straight unthinkable. No way could that have happened ever. But they managed it.

It’s just a pity that they had to destroy the country in the process.

And they are still falling. The way things are going, there may be more non-party representatives than FF in the next Dáil.

Current Party Standings

Incidentally, I must apologise for the lack of cartoons in these posts. I’m pretty much typing or reading all the time so I’m not really getting much of a chance. Will attempt to do one with my elbow.

Micheál Martin was elected in Cork, on the first count. With only 41 left over though, he won’t be bringing in a colleague. With four seats left, 2 FG and 2 to Labour looks most likely. RTÉ television have decided what what he has to say is more important than the actual vote or anything, so I had to get the (extraordinary) news about my own constituency from the radio. Finally though they did replace Martin’s face.

With Brian Cowen’s.

Let’s refresh our minds by glancing at the current standing of the parties:

FG 19, Lab 12, Others 7, SF 5, FF 3.

Crazy.

West Shows The Way

Labour top poll! Contrary to expectations, FF’s Ó Cuív didn’t win the first count in Galway West. Labour’s Derek Nolan took the yellow jersey. It’s basically impossible for him not to be elected now.

The question is whether it is possible for both socialists to make it in. My own vote is currently resting with Catherine Connolly, who has just under half a quota. Noel Grealish (XPD) did well on the first count, so he seems secure. It looks very much therefore that the fifth seat in Galway West will be a fight between Connolly and a second Fine Gaeler – and at the moment there are two FG candidates (just) ahead of her.

As the other independents are eliminated, their votes will tend to go towards Connolly. The third FG candidate’s will obviously go mainly to FGs. Which will FF votes go to? That’s anyone’s guess.

I think Connolly can do it, but… We’re going to be up all night, people.

Nearby in Mayo meanwhile, two FG candidates – one the party leader Enda Kenny – have been elected on the first count. That’s extraordinary. It seems certain they will win four out of five of that constituency’s seats.

Brian Lenihan, By The Skin Of His Neck

Does anyone believe that Brian Lenihan would have survived this election if he hadn’t turned his back on Brian Cowen?

His move against his leader would, at another time, have led to swift political termination. Fianna Fáil stands for nothing if not loyalty. (Actually, Fianna Fáil had come to stand for pretty much nothing except loyalty.) Yet now it seems likely that the only remaining FF representative in Dublin, the sole survivor of the Lenihan/O’Rourke dynasty, will be the one who turned on his leader.

Wait a while. Micheál Martin is wounded now by these election results – fatally so, I would imagine. How long before Lenihan attempts to reclaim the party for himself and his dynasty?

FF’s only TD in Dublin. I have to say that out loud. That still isn’t conceivable, even though it’s actually happening.

Under Bertie Ahern, FF attempted to portray itself as a party of the working class. Ahern even called himself “the last socialist”, though the claim was met with a mixture of laughter and blank incomprehension. It’s interesting though that once he went, that whole costume was sloughed off – as if Bertie was the only credible working-class Dubliner in the whole party.

Well now he is.

 

Sinn Féin Breakthrough

Gerry Adams, having resigned the seat he didn’t use in Westminster, will take one up in Leinster House. Indeed things are looking good for Sinn Féin across the Republic. It’s an outside chance, but there is real a possibility that they will actually overtake Fianna Fáil to become the Dáil’s fourth-largest party.

Which would be amusing.

I note that TV3 has switched from election coverage to a reality show about driving around the country pointlessly. (Or something.) Nice to know the 30% of the population who didn’t vote for who runs their country are catered for. I was complaining about RTÉ the other day, but it seems commercial television is determined to prove it can be worse.

I’m glad we don’t have compulsory voting like in Australia. The sort of person who will not come out to vote even at an election like this is not the sort I want having any influence over anything that in any way affects my life. TV3 is about what they deserve.

Meanwhile, Back In The East…

Dammit, Galway West is being recounted! Before we even had a first count!!! Because of that FF table collapse perhaps? Shouldn’t have laughed…

Exciting things happening all around the country though. The socialists are back – Joe Higgins was elected, and this time he won’t be alone in the Dáil. The United Left Alliance will take at least four and possibly six seats. Combine that with Labour’s best-ever showing, easily outstripping the ‘Spring Tide’ of 1992, and there will be something like 45 seats on the left. It’s not a revolution, but it is a new ball game.

Bad news: it seems certain that Lucinda Creighton will be elected. She’s rapidly becoming a figure of hate among the young and liberal as she’s against Gay marriage. That would not be so surprising in Irish politics, except for the fact that she’s Fine Gael’s spokesperson on equality…

That’s the sort of government we’re getting folks. Even their equality spokesperson is against, you know, actual equality. The dragon may have been slain, but we will continue to be probably the most unequal society in Western Europe for some time to come.

Meanwhile, Still In The West

Fianna Fáil here have collapsed. Literally. The folding table they were using just fell down. It’s widely being seem as pretty bloody symbolic. Frank Fahey, former minister, has conceded defeat. No surprise – he almost came to be seen as emblematic of the party’s endemic corruption.

Our leading Green candidate, Niall O’Brolcháin, has seen his vote taken out and shot. It is a shame. I like him. I like what he stood for. But at least Fianna Fáil party TDs had an excuse for supporting a FF government. The Greens will never be able to explain why it seemed like a good idea.

Count any second now. It’s looking very much as if FF will be reduced to a single seat.

Meanwhile, Back West

Galway West is a sprawling constituency, so frustratingly we always seem to be one of the last in with a first count. Still another tense fifteen minutes. But counts are carried on in public, so impressions emerge. Interesting impressions.

Eamon Ó Cuív – De Valera’s grandson and Fianna Fáil’s leading candidate here – appears to be topping the poll. I ask you to contemplate that solemnly. On the brighter side, he looks to be falling short of being elected on the first count as might normally be expected. Such is the tribal FF grip, Fianna Fáil not winning too well is about the best we can hope for in Galway West.

Surprisingly, but excitingly, Labour’s Derek Nolan is coming second. He actually seems to have increased on the first-preference vote of his popular predecessor, Michael D. Higgins.

His surplus should largely go to former-Labour independent Catherine Connolly, so the dream of two left-wing seats here looks like it may come true. The next big question then is whether Noel Grealish, former leader of the defunct right-wing PD party, will survive. And if he does, will it be at the expense of FF?

For once, I think I’d actually like to see a PD elected…

Fianna Fáil Voters Tell Lies

It seems unlikely now that Fianna Fáil will really finish behind independents as the exit polls predicted. This is because people voted for them while saying that they didn’t. But should we be surprised, considering the example set by their party?

Now I could go on about this, but I don’t want to seem too bitter about the future of the country being destroyed for a generation. I’ll just say that if you’re voting for a party you’re ashamed of, you need to re-examine your priorities. The last time I remember this happening it was for Margaret Thatcher.

First Concrete Impressions

Exit polls are the snacks you shouldn’t eat between meals, but if you place any credence in them then Fianna Fáil are about to have the worst day in their party’s history.

The big winners will be… Independents. Independents would have overtaken the Fianna Fáil party to become the third-largest political grouping.

As the counts begin to come in, one very hopeful trend emerging: The fall of dynasties. Names like Haughey, like Flynn, will no longer be appearing in the Dáil. High time.

Major trends: In Dublin, Fianna Fáil voters switching to Labour, outside Dublin they’re switching to Fine Gael.

Left/right, urban/rural axis seems to be slowly taking place of old ‘civil war’ one?

Interesting-but-weird: Transfers from Sinn Féin going to Fine Gael. Again quite contrary to historical loyalty patterns.

Fun: A Christian Solidarity Party candidate (read: far right) very upset that his party logo didn’t appear on the ballot paper, and was replaced with what he describes as a ‘picture of nuts’.