Election 2016: A bittersweet result?
By Shane Brothwood
The election results are mostly in. The people of Ireland have spoken. And…nothing has changed!
The established political order remains firmly locked in place. What’s worse is the looming prospect of a coalition between Fine Gael and Fianna Fail – two parties who have one joint goal: protecting their own.
But is there any good news to be taken from the election?
While Fine Gael have won the majority of seats, they have lost a great deal of influence going from 66 to roughly 49 seats.
Labour were cut to shreds, losing over 27 seats. The real left has risen and Fianna Fail have awakened from their slumber.
Fine Gael’ under Enda Kenny, made losses down to the introduction of water charges, mass emigration, the slashing of benefits such as pensions, pursuit of austerity and their out of touch slogan, “Keep the Recovery Going”.
There was nothing more annoying than watching them crying about their losses on RTE.
Maybe with that in mind they should understand the irreparable losses ordinary people suffered as a result of keeping bankers and the social elite happy.
Labour were the biggest losers. People saw them as abandoning their working class values at the foot of the Dail and following Fine Gael on a journey through corruption and greed.
Meanwhile, Michael Martin has done a spectacular job in painting himself as a noble crusader for the downtrodden. For example, he claims to want to eliminate the water charges.
Fianna Fail has dodged many bullets in this election. It seems their success has been based on people forgetting the damage they had done to the economy by transferring blame onto Fine Gael.
Sinn Fein seem to be an option for a future government to many.
They may have a dark past, but an increasing number feel they have good policies, such as affordable housing and child care, and they claim they will take on the vested interests of cronyism in the Dail.
However, some have fears of Sinn Fein ever being Ireland’s caretakers.
Apart from the main four, there’s been a massive political earthquake. The old boys club may control the puppet strings, but the people of this country have fought back.
The smaller parties and independents earned 34 seats between them, an increase of 14 seats from the 2011 election.
Claire Brennan, 22, of Dublin South Central, suggested two factors for the change of voting trends – 1: “The working class struggle, health and housing crisis, emigration, lack of jobs and bad working conditions.”
And 2: “The selling off of our natural resources – gas, oil, water, forests, to private companies.”
However, to me in my constituency of Dublin Bay South, the election was disappointing.
Although the Green Party leader Eamon Ryan, topped the votes, two Fine Gael candidates, Eoghan Murphy, Katie O’Connell, and Fianna Fail’s Jim Callaghan, were also elected.
Along with Dublin Central, (52.4%) Dublin Bay South had one of the worst turn out rates in the country (54.8%). It was also one of two constituencies in Dublin to elect more than one Fine Gael candidate.
Fine Gael and Fine Fail dominating the election was a disappointment turn of events for many.