FF decimated by people’s anger
AFTER GIVING Fianna Fáil an unprecedented electoral thrashing that has changed the Irish political landscape, the people of Ireland are eagerly anticipating how Enda Kenny and Fine Gael will go about forming a new government and implementing the plan of action that has been promised to set the country on a path to recovery.
Mr Kenny and his reinvigorated party will have to get about their business with speed and determination if they are to maintain the support of a people who have demonstrated in the most unequivocal manner that they have no tolerance left for political leaders who fail to deliver. The verdict delivered against Fianna Fáil and the Green Party in this election is about more than a desire for a change of government; it is an expression of outrage at a self-centered, political elite that put personal and party interests above the national good.
Fianna Fáil has been decimated by the people’s anger and lies crippled after the worst electoral defeat in the party’s history, leaving the party condemned to the sidelines of political life and facing a monumental task of rebuilding its strength and credibility. The one thing that now stands in Fianna Fáil’s favour is that it has the benefit of starting out with a clean slate - and that may prove significant in time. The tallies and then the results coming in from the election count centres around the country over the weekend were scarcely believable as, one after another, Fianna Fáil’s champions of elections past fell.
Even the voters who delivered this damning judgement must have felt some sympathy for the condemned, for among them were some of the most adroit parliamentarians of recent times, whose entire political careers were being judged on the failures of the past three years.
Amid the spectacle of Fianna Fáil’s downfall, the banishing of the Greens from the corridors of power was a mere sideshow. In all likelihood their period in the wilderness will last longer than Fianna Fáil’s. The lessons of this calamitous defeat will not be lost on Fianna Fáil when they manage to pick themselves up off the floor and they should be well noted too by those who now hold the reins of power.
The people of Ireland have no tolerance left for political deceit, double talk and failure to act in the best interests of the country and the punishment that was handed out to Fianna Fáil is likely to be repeated for our next government if they fail in the same manner.
Enda Kenny now has the task of putting together a strong, capable government and he has a number of options in doing this, between forming a coalition with Labour or governing with the support of ‘ like minded’ independents. Neither option is without difficulties. A single party Fine Gael government supported by independents would mean the party wouldn’t be forced to share ministries. But this formula could lack stability and if the massive support for Fine Gael demonstrates anything it is that people want a stable government. And, importantly, nobody will want to see a new government starting out on the path of secret deals and arrangements with independents that so marred the last two Fianna Fáil led administrations.
Coalition with Labour, on the other hand, would produce a government with a massive majority. However, the parties’ policies differ in some key areas and this could stymie the drive to introduce reforms that have been promised by Fine Gael and are desperately needed by the country.
Whatever route to forming a government is chosen, one thing is clear: There is no time for dithering. The country is in a perilous state and decisive action is urgently needed to restore confidence and hope for the future. Enda Kenny has promised to begin the process of political reform within 100 days.
There is no question but this is important, but he will need to have achieved a lot more than that and his government will have to press on with conviction and determination in an effort to haul the country out of the sorry mess it is in. This government will be judged on its ability to act decisively and honestly as well as on its achievements. One thing is certain - Enda doesn’t want to find himself in five year’s time where Micheál Martin is now.