Standort: / Meldung: "Podemos in Ireland?"

Steve Crilley

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25. 2. 2016 - 13:57

Podemos in Ireland?

The pubs are full, shops are open, the cranes are back but are the Irish still set on punishing their government?

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Often a government in power looks into its crystal ball and decides when it is best to hold an election. The Irish government is no different. It saw a country coming out of recession and felt that voters would reward it handsomely, so it have called a snap election for this Friday. Well, you can never underestimate what the electorate are thinking, particularly if they don't feel the immediate effects of an upturn in an economy.

Reality Check's Steve Crilley spoke with David Farrell, Professor of Politics at University College Dublin about how Ireland is progressing ahead of Friday's vote.

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What’s on most people’s minds going into this election?

I think the main thing is we’re coming out of the worst economic crisis in our history that has hurt all sectors of society. And there was the sense, as we went into this election campaign, that there was a reason to believe that things were more hopeful.

We heard some dire headlines about Ireland’s economy a little while back, so how are things now?

We had a rough time. We were very badly impacted by the world recession, certainly one of the worst affected among the main European democracies. And things are now a lot better.

If you go into Dublin city centre on a Friday night, the buzz is absolutely amazing, the restaurants are full, there seem to be a lot of people spending a lot of money, the cranes are back, we’re seeing buildings being built again, there is a good sense of vibrancy and the economy is picking up. The unemployment figures have gone right back down again, almost to where they were before the crisis hit. The thing you have to be aware of, is that the economic upturn hasn’t affected everyone in the same way. So there are still whole swathes of the population who have yet to feel the upturn. And that’s the thing I think that the government parties didn’t take enough account of before they launched their campaign.

What about the rise of smaller leftist parties, like in Spain with Podemos and in Greece with Syriza?

We’re seeing a sort of version of that. I guess the complexity of that in Ireland is that we have a party here called Sinn Féin, which is dressing itself up as an Irish version of Podemos or Syriza, but they are not a new party. They’re a very old party with a lot of history and a lot of baggage [with their connections to the IRA]. That constrains their growth, because there are people from an older generation who don’t want to support that kind of party. In some ways they also block the field for other smaller parties, so they have made life a little more complicated. But they are doing well, they are going to have a good election. And elsewhere, you are going to have some very small micro left parties. So there’s a potential for a coalition including these parties on the left. But they won’t have the numbers, they are too far away in terms of their support.

Are we looking at instability in forming some kind of strong government?

Yes, the best bet is that we are going to have a hung parliament at this stage. Unless there is a last minute surge, the government parties are not going to have enough for an overall majority. So we are looking at a hung parliament, a minority government that will limp along for a couple of months perhaps and then fresh elections.

There is one alternative scenario but it is seen as a long shot and that is the two larger established parties Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil decide to form a grand coalition with each other. They have a huge animosity towards each other, both leaders fervently reject any possibility of a coalition but you can never rule anything out.

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