Thursday, January 20, 2011

Fianna Fáiling

In today's worldly political news, Irish voters will go to the polls on March 11th of this year. The election was called by current Taoiseach (PM) Brian Cowen, who has governed Ireland since his appointment following the resignation of Bertie Ahern in May of 2008. His party, the centrist (though that term is relative) Fianna Fáil (FF), has been governing in a coalition with Ireland's much-larger-than-ours Green Party since then.

However Cowen, often called the "Oaf from Offaly" (Laois-Offaly being the district he represents), has been facing some tough times given the virtual wrecking ball Ireland's economy has been hit with. He's also a bit of a drinker, and he's led a very unpopular government. Most recently his ineptitude lead to a secret ballot on his leadership, and though he won it, he lost his Foreign Minister in the process.

But more importantly, FF's polling numbers are scarily low. Indeed, they're now tied with Sinn Fein, one of the smaller parties in Parliament, who are mired around 15%, the most recent poll giving them only 14% of the vote. This is very concerning considering that FF has never been this low, and their status as what you could call being the "natural governing party" of Ireland, but even more successful than our Liberals, given that in the 84-year history of Ireland, they've been in power for 53 years. Every leader they've had has served as Taoiseach. It's a feat matched by no one else in the democratic world.

But now FF is far behind their main opposition, Fine Gael, and behind Ireland's social democratic party, Labour, who are now threatening to replace FF. This is something far worse than anything ever faced by the Liberals over here. Only the Progressive Conservatives of 1993 ever faced such an enormous defeat on their horizon, and even so, if the polls are correct, FF's fall could surpass even that.


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