Irish coalition collapses

Posted on behalf of Brian Walker
I didn’t set out to give a ball- by -ball commentary on the Irish political crisis but the latest developments are irresistible. Tonight (Sunday) the coalition collapsed when the two Green party ministers resigned.

Seven Fianna Fail ministers only remain, the constitutional minimum for a legal government. Frantic efforts are now afoot to try to save the Finance Bill before an election. The Guardian website reports what is at stake.

“The government has been concerned that if the bill is not swiftly passed international bond markets will panic, fearing Ireland is reneging on its commitments to the IMF and the European Union to drive down its national deficit.”

This presents the opposition Fine Gael and Labour parties with a supreme test. Do they move their vote of confidence this week and precipitate an immediate general election rather than later, even if earlier than the March 11 date set by taoiseach Brian Cowen only on Friday? How would the Greens vote, having just quit the government? Cowen is surely right, when he says the Finance Bill could not pass by Friday, the likely day of Dail dissolution if the government were to fall this week.

Public shame and anger are reaching new heights, not only against the collapsing government (now standing at 8% approval rating in the polls) but against the burdensome terms of the EU-IMF bailout. In response, all parties – even Fianna Fail – are uttering vague noises of re-negotiation – after the budget. Saving the budget could mean electoral damage for Fine Gael and Labour. For once, they may face a tougher decision than the government rump.

Demands are mounting for wholesale constitutional and political reform to remove the scourges of clientelism and croneyism at the heart of Irish public life which account for the crisis plumbing such depths, according to the system’s legion of critics.

2 thoughts on “Irish coalition collapses

    • Hi Deirdre,

      well, you’re right that the Irish coalition would have made an excellent comparator with the UK coalition. But I have a few answers to your question.
      1. our project is primarily about the UK coalition, not the Irish coalition. Now, in relation to the UK coalition, we are very up to date (although we’ve just finished). See here:
      http://www.ucl.ac.uk/constitution-unit/research/coalition-government
      2. But maybe you’re talking about the Irish experience. Alas! you must remember that there are only 2 key members of the team, myself and Professor Hazell. Prof Hazell works on this and judicial independence, and teaches. Together over 2011 we interviewed close to 150 people, and have just completed a book manuscript (along with Peter Waller, Brian Walker and Eimear O’Casey). So… we’re rather busy.

      But anyway. Enough about us and our limited time and funding. If you have thoughts about the Fine Gael-Labour Coalition, please do add some commentary here!

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