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The behaviour of the main political parties since the February 26 election — now almost eight weeks ago — has been nothing short of contemptuous towards the will of the Irish electorate.
I seem to recall, in the past, both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael having referred to this same electorate as “discerning”.
This same “discerning electorate” showed quite clearly their will on February 26 by returning a depleted Fine Gael and a Fianna Fáil who, essentially, did a little better than expected.
I think it’s fair to say that the smaller parties and Independents performed, more or less, as anticipated and the end result was that the outgoing Fine Gael/Labour coalition had no realistic chance of returning to Government.
Had both the main parties any real respect for the electorate’s discernment then they would have taken their final decision on board and quickly formed a Governemnt.
Instead, their every move since the result was announced has clearly indicated that their sole motivation has been for personal and party advantage. This has been displayed in a fashion which has been even more blatant than an Irish populace, long used to political cynicism, has witnessed for some time.
From historical perspective, it’s worth reminding ourselves that, on two occasions in the late 1980s Charles Haughey’s Fianna Fáil found themselves in a similar position, in both 1987 and 1989.
In the former case, Alan Duke’s Fine Gael gave their support for Haughey’s Government in the so-called “Tallaght strategy”.
This Governemnt lasted no longer than two years whereupon Fianna Fáil formed a coalition with their erstwhile and disliked Progressive Democrats colleagues lead by Demond O’Malley.
None of this was, perhaps, ideal and it certainly didn’t result in an entirely stable Government but it did set in place policies which paved the way for the economic upturn which occurred a few years later and it certainly illustrated that, for all his documented opportunism and cynicism, Haughey showed, arguably, a more reasonable attitude toward the “discerning Irish electorate” than any of the current opportunists have done.
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