The Social Democrats are targeting at least seven seats in the general election and are open to entering government with any rival party — provided it is not simply offered “crumbs from the table”.
Joint leader Catherine Murphy outlined the election battle plan as she claimed the way in which the current political system is designed “is an impediment to building new political entities” and is damaging democracy.
Speaking to the Irish Examiner, the long-standing Kildare North TD said while she has no definitive seat figure in mind, the ideal would be “to go beyond seven seats” to gain Dáil speaking rights for the party instead of relying on the tighter technical group spaces.
While admitting achieving that number of TDs with just 14 candidates “is not a minor deal”, it would allow the new party to build for future elections and potentially give it a foothold in any post-election coalition negotiations.
Describing the lead-in to the election campaign as “like looking forward to a quadruple bypass”, Ms Murphy said “we’re not ruling anyone in and we’re not ruling anyone out” in the event the party is asked to form part of a future government coalition.
“The citizens haven’t gone out and cast one single solitary vote, we don’t know what the numbers are going to be. But if you’re not working off the same plan and if you’re not working to the same goal, you’re not compatible. So they [other parties which may seek a coalition] have to be compatible, or else it’s crumbs from the table.
“It would be pork barrel politics. If that’s going to continue then what’s the point? So, for us, it [joining a coalition] has to have a higher value or else you’re not actually delivering something different.”
Asked if her party colleagues have the same view and if in particular Wicklow TD Stephen Donnelly would be more inclined to go into government with Fine Gael compared to his party colleagues such as ex-Labour TD Róisín Shortall, Ms Murphy said the public has a “misunderstanding with where he is” and that he is not “compatible” with Fine Gael on social issues.
Ms Murphy repeated that the Social Democrats will not go into power at any price, insisting all members are committed to real changes in society and are not opposed to remain out of government as they have a multi-election growth plan.
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