Irish Lawmaker Says Mainstream Parties Try to Stay in Power Via Anti-Sinn Fein Coalition

LONDON (UrduPoint News / Sputnik – 17th June, 2020) Ireland‘s prospective coalition government of Fianna Fail (FF), Fine Gael (FG) and the Green Party is a direct attempt by the former two parties to retain their hold on governance four months after a general election that saw them outflanked and out-fought by the nationalist Sinn Fein (SF), Paul Murphy, a member of parliament for Dublin South West, told Sputnik on Wednesday.

Ireland’s previously deadlocked parties finally announced a draft deal for a coalition government on Monday following months of political uncertainty. Although the membership of three parties still need to vote in approval, the deal will likely see them govern for the next five years, a rarity in a country long dominated by Fianna Fail and Fine Gael. A controversial aspect of the deal is the notable absence of SF, which otherwise came out ahead of their nearest contender, Fianna Fail, in last February‘s election.

“It is far from a given that the grassroots Greens will go along with this, they may reject the deal. This is a last ditch attempt by the traditional establishment parties to hold onto power,” Murphy said.

According to the lawmaker, FF and FG are attempting to use the Green Party “as a mudguard for their austerity policies, while adding in some fluff about climate change to their Programme for Government, but without meaningful commitments for the next five years.”

At the same time, the lawmaker said that the addition of the Green Party and its certain policies would likely amount to little, especially in the event of their membership rejecting the coalition’s political program.

The alliance raises questions about the future behavior of voters who otherwise threw their support behind Sinn Fein. According to Murphy, SF supporters would be naturally disappointed, although in the long-term the situation would work in favor of the non-coalition parties working to pose as an alternative.

“I think right now there is a disappointment amongst people that the change they voted for is being thwarted. However, instead of disillusionment and passivity, I think we are likely to see active resistance to the austerity measures planned for the coming years and a further politicisation towards the left,” Murphy said.

Of particular interest is the question of which party will take the position of the prime minister, or Taoiseach, under the coalition. Leo Varadkar had continued in such a role since the deadlock following the February election, although is now set to give way to Fianna Fail’s Micheal Martin, the lawmaker said, adding that Varadkar will then become Taoiseach again in 2022.

Yet, this apparent bid at sharing the uppermost reigns of power between FF and FG will not likely do much to favor either party in the eyes of the electorate, given the odds of them being further associated as “identical” parties, Murphy added.

“It is an attempt for the establishment parties to hang on, but really it will mark a further sharp decline in the combined support for Fianna Fail and Fine Gael, as it becomes clearer and clearer that they are essentially identical in terms of politics,” the lawmaker said.

The ultimate result of the general elections had served to upset what had been previously regarded as an effective duopoly between the two major parties � Fianna Fail and Fine Gael. Although FF had, all the same, won some 38 seats to Sinn Fein’s 37, voters had effectively rebuked what had long been considered a straight contest between FF and FG, leaving the main parties deadlocked or otherwise facing the unwelcome prospect of a coalition with Sinn Fein.

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