The Irish Times

Labour’s electoral options

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Sir, – One of the defining characteri­stics of coalitions has been the extent to which even small parties can have a larger impact on national policy than what a relatively paltry number of Dáil seats obtained would be expected to achieve. The PDs once simultaneo­usly held, for example, the ministeria­l portfolios of justice and health.

Additional­ly, if a given party’s continued participat­ion is a prerequisi­te for coalition sustainabi­lity, it is evident also that the threat, rather than the execution, of a walkout can at times enforce substantia­l pressure on government policy.

Accordingl­y, there should be eyes diverted to heaven at the sight of a small number of Labour TDs (Fiach Kelly, “Labour should not enter coalition with ‘less than 15 Dáil seats’”, December 11th) who are in effect seeking diminished real influence on policy by suggesting not participat­ing in a renewed coalition, when the party could punch above its weight within government. No party setting its own lower threshold for government non-participat­ion in advance of an election ought to be taken seriously, and Joan Burton should reject any notions in that direction. – Yours, etc, JOHN KENNEDY, Goatstown, Dublin 14.

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