Former Fine Gael strategist Frank Flannery has said that the party’s recent election campaign was very weak and one of the worst he has ever seen.
He also predicted that the major political parties would come together.
Addressing the MacGill Summer School, he said the party’s performance in the campaign, where it achieved 24% of the vote, was “very weak”.
Mr Flannery also said the party was fractured and needed to reconnect with the people.
In March this year, Mr Flannery resigned as director of elections with Fine Gael amid the fallout about salaries at the Rehab charity, of which he was a director before also leaving that role.
Outlining the future for political parties at the Donegal conference yesterday, he was highly critical of Enda Kenny’s party.
The relationship between the party in government and the backbenches had become “fractured”, he said. Fine Gael had become “an extension” of a civil servant government.
He added: “The recent local election probably, as an election campaign, in my honest view, was the worst I ever saw.
“And we had the Seanad referendum, that was hardly a glorious effort for a party that actually brought it in as a significant and a major reform. But, having said all that, they are still in a very key position to be an anchor party of the next government.”
In contrast, Mr Flannery suggested that Fianna Fáil had done well, with great numbers of men and women in place for the next general election and had also made gains in Dublin, despite not having a TD or MEP there.
“The road back is there for them,” remarked Mr Flannery. “Nonetheless, critical for them will be the calibre of the candidates they put in the field.”
He said that Sinn Féin was a populist party and that Labour had a new chance with a new leader.
However, summarising his views, the former director of elections said that it was the “destiny” of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael to come together. He also said that Labour and Sinn Féin should join forces.
Fine Gael required a “rethink of a fundamental nature“, he said, adding that there were new bright TDs in the Dáil who now had the same attitudes as people going out the back door.
Independent TD Stephen Donnelly told the conference that there had been a “total collapse of institutional Ireland” in recent years.
However, the public was unable to say if there was a big difference in policy between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, said the Wicklow TD.
This “political cartel” was now under threat with the rise of Sinn Féin and Independents, he said.
Political analyst Noel Whelan said it was impossible to imagine the current government elected with a majority in the next general election. Factors which shaped the volatility of the 2011 election, including high unemployment, still persisted.
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