Tuesday, February 11, 2020

The end of the establishment in Ireland?

Irish voters went to the polls on Saturday in parliamentary elections, and perhaps delivered a political revolution. Since independence, Irish politics has been dominated by two parties, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. Basicly patronage networks with indistinguishable policies, their cleavage isn't ideology, but who killed whose father or grandfather in the civil war. But this time around, a quarter of voters opted for Sinn Féin, which also has roots in the Irish independence struggle, but which has reinvented itself as a progressive, left-wing party since ending its policy of abstentionism in the south. Which clearly looked appealing given the two establishment parties shared pro-business policies, and so now Ireland has a three way split (plus an assortment of minor parties).

Sinn Féin has announced they will try to form a government, but obviously that will require the support of one of the two establishment parties. Alternatively, the establishment can work together (as they did after the 2016 election) to keep one of their own in power. Whichever happens, its a huge shake-up for Irish politics, which hopefully marks the end (or the beginning of the end) for their establishment.