The election: who won and who lost?

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As I write, RTÉ radio is hauling in old hands to tell us how to understand the exit polls. We’ve had Billy Kelleher, the mastermind of FF’s campaign; Michael McDowell of the late PDs; and Róisín Shortall of the Social Democrats.  As yet no Shinners.

The party that will be most pleased and at the same time most agonised is Fianna Fail. They have a choice: they either enter a coalition, tight or loose, with Fine Gael, and so allow a government to be formed; or they refuse to enter a coalition with their political Siamese twin, in which case there won’t be a government and the parties will have to head back to the electorate and another election.  Which will it be?

OK, let me go out on a limb: it won’t be the second. The  three-week election we’ve just experienced was for the most part deadly dull. The most memorable images are of the Concerned Citizen/CEO getting all hot and bothered about what Sinn  Féin were about to do to the poor, and Gerry Adams drawing the picture of the three amigos on their donkeys heading for the sunset. So the electorate would be very cheesed off if they were asked to do all this again within a few months.

If that’s the case, then Fianna Fail will have to go into a coalition of some sort with Fine Gael. Nice, from the point of view that they’ll get a good big slice of the  power cake. Far from nice in that it’ll leave Sinn Féin as the major opposition party, one on which it will build.  Not just that but junior partners in coalitions tend to get it in the neck when an election comes (isn’t that right, Joan?) So as I say Fianna Fail will be breaking out the bubbly or sitting morosely in the corner swallowing whiskey, depending on what way they look at it.

Fine Gael will be fit to be tied. They were getting 30% and even more in the early opinion polls. Now here they are stuck at barely 26%. Stand by, when the time is right, for a heave against the Mayo primary school teacher.

The Labour party will need a life-support system to keep alive between this election and the next. Joan Burton will need a life-support system to make her way through this election and break into the fresh air of electoral success. My guess is she’ll suffocate first.

Sinn Féin will be largely pleased and a little bit cheesed off. They’ll be happy that it looks as though they may get around double their present representation. By any standards that’s not bad. Even better, thanks to Fianna Fail’s sticky position, there’s a good chance that it’ll be seen as the major opposition party, with its main political enemy attached to a government that, in present uncertain times, will have its hands more than full. The Shinners will be a bit cheesed off because while 16% isn’t bad, it’s 4% less than they were getting in opinion polls earlier in the campaign. And if you were to go a bit mad, you could buy Bertie Ahern’s claim that SF would have added another ten seats if they’d dumped Gerry and had Mary Lou or Pearse Doherty or some such as leader. Mind you, I don’t think too many in the Sinn Féin party are so mad as to believe something Bertie Ahern says.

By my mathematics, then, and assuming the exit polls are accurate, Sinn Féin will be the happiest of the main parties.

News flash: I’m now listening to Michael McDowell giving his opinion of Sinn Féin. He’s pointed out – as I have – that SF were doing better in opinion polls earlier in the campaign. After that he seemed to lose interest, other than to say the leaders of Sinn Féin, Fine Gael and Labour should think about whether they should stand aside. Mmm. Can’t see Sinn Féin following advice on anything from a fan like Michael McDowell.

It’s going to be a long day or two.

20 Responses to The election: who won and who lost?

  1. jessica February 27, 2016 at 9:12 am #

    “And if you were to go a bit mad, you could buy Bertie Ahern’s claim that SF would have added another ten seats if they’d dumped Gerry and had Mary Lou or Pearse Doherty or some such as leader.”

    I don’t think it would help at all if they “dump” Gerry, but I agree completely that Mary Lou as leader would have added 10 seats throughout the country and I would also add, at Fianna Fails expense.

    Fianna Fail have a tough choice to make. They either give Sinn Fein their position as leader of the opposition and become a junior partner in a right wing unpopular government which has the risks you point out, or they take responsibility for giving FG full control once again, or they force another election in which Sinn Fein might make a few changes and stand more candidates.

  2. Jim Neeson February 27, 2016 at 10:21 am #

    Sinn Fein in opposition? Good for the country. When ” The recovery ends” SF can, in opposition, make it so hard for the Coalition that they will win the next election. SF in power in both parts of this Island. A surety worth waiting for !!

  3. Iolar February 27, 2016 at 10:33 am #

    Whatever way you look at it, the whingers have it. Some anachronistic moulds are being broken in the Irish political landscape. Today it will be down to the numbers, next week it will be back to the politics. The people were told that Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael will not enter into a coalition. Perhaps we will witness more broken promises under the winners of leadership contests? The election campaign was dull and bore all the hallmarks of the legacy of partition with the scapegoat, Mr Adams bearing the brunt of media manufactured manoeuvres. The people want ethics in government not bankers basking in the Bahamas.

  4. giordanobruno February 27, 2016 at 12:05 pm #

    It looks like a good result for Sinn Fein alright, 27 seats I have seen predicted.
    I have no problem with that (they will no doubt be relieved to hear!)
    If they are the main opposition party that will keep whatever coalition is in power on their toes.
    It will also bring about the retirement of the beloved leader, who can leave on a high. That will be the beginning of New Sinn Fein.

  5. TheHist February 27, 2016 at 12:08 pm #

    An interesting few days ahead as the situation continues to unfold – last few exit polls in the South have been pretty accurate.

    I’m assuming the majority of people who voted FG and FF, did so in the knowledge, that both parties would not merge into a coalition with each other – A very recent exit poll indicated that 13% of respondents would like to see a FG/FF coalition, therefore quite a sizeable majority would not – how many resignations will there be in both parties if they do merge, making a coalition untenable?

    For SF, a FG and FF coalition would be a great opportunity, as I feel both parties will find it very difficult to work together (if they merge) allowing SF as leading opposition party to tear strips off them and increase further their support. FF will be watching carefully, as Labour, as junior party have been decimated as a result of their coalition with FG. SF will potentially make great gains – from 5TDs pre 2011 to the late 20’s in 2016. All to play for at this stage ….

    • jessica February 27, 2016 at 4:17 pm #

      “For SF, a FG and FF coalition would be a great opportunity, as I feel both parties will find it very difficult to work together (if they merge) allowing SF as leading opposition party to tear strips off them and increase further their support. FF will be watching carefully, as Labour, as junior party have been decimated as a result of their coalition with FG.”

      If Sinn Fein can do business with a party as diverse in opinion from them as the DUP, surely FF can do likewise with FG and vice versa.

      If they cannot put party differences aside after the people gave them their mandate, what would that say to the people and how fit for government would that make them?

  6. Perkin Warbeck February 27, 2016 at 2:49 pm #

    A rainbow in the morning, Esteemed Blogmeister, is traditionally reckoned to be a warning for shepherds and already we have the r-word getting more than a fair menches. Now the leprechaun for shepherds is aoiri which is pronounced much like eerie in compulsory English.

    Most of the menches have been made so far by the shepherd who was charged with a crook in one hand and a crock of gold in the other by the Eerie Leaders of Eireland to steer their party even as it romped home to an effortless victory : wee Brian Hayes the Altar Boy.

    If the avuncular Michael Noonan is the Uncle Mick of the Fine Ghoul party (for it is it !) then wee Brian Hayes the Altar Boy is his favourite nephew. Both are figures men – every sort of shapely figure from Die Fuhrerin Merkel to La Yawnaiste – and despite all the talk of their sums being greater than that of another party’s (guess which one !) it hasn’t quite turned out that way.

    Minister of Finance Noonan, as of noon today, has seen his vote slashed in two. While Wee Brian the MEP has been staggering around in a, erm, haze of horrific exit polls all morning ,wondering why he didn’t stay in Bruxelles to do his famous impression of the Mannekin Pis.

    Of course, there are Michael Noonans and then there are Michael Noonans. Take the second MN first. That would be the Michael Noonan who is the central character of the novel ‘Bag of Bones’ by the protean Stephen King.

    This horror novel was first published in 1998, just four years after The Rainbow Coalition was formed in the Free Southern Stateeen. The same cabinet which (gulp) boasted the other Michael Noonan as Minister for Health. Now while there is no evidence that the novel and the cabinet, no more than the two Michael Noonans are related, nevertheless the following bullet points may well be worth perusing.

    The Department of Health was embroiled in a scandal resulting from blood products contaminated with the Hepatitis C virus. This Michael Noonan consistently held an authoritarian line on the case of Bridget McConville, oops,McCole and refused to budge an inch. At one stage he even threatened to take Bridget McCole’s mother Ellen to the Supreme Court when she wondered why her daughter had contracted the disease.

    Think, if not exactly ‘Bag of Bones’ of the other Michael Noonan then ‘The Skeleton in the Cupboard’ of this Michael Noonan.

    Eventually, the avunucular Uncle Mick of the Fine Ghoul party was compelled to eat humble pie (undrenched in maple syrup – see below) and issue a series of staggered apologies to the McCole family. It might be argued that this Michael Noonan did not exactly put his best, erm, legacy forward.

    Could it be posited that the two Michael Noonans may well be (gasp) blood brothers?
    A movie was made of the novel and the part of the other Michael Noonan was taken by (gulp) Pearse Brosnan. Whatever about the question of looks there is another way of looking at this choice of leading actor – he hails from Navan, the same constituency as the resplendent Regina Doherty, who, given her abject failure in the real world of finance, when her IT company went belly up, complete with decorative button pin, has been hotly touted as a future incumbent of the Finance portfolio.

    The horror movie is set in New England, which is Stephen King country central, and, oddly enough, G.E. 2016 coincides with (honest) the Maple Syrup (see above) harvest in that gorgeous pocket of Planet Earth. It is extremely odd that this harvesting occurs in winter time, an agricultural peculiarity which is mirrored by the political flowering in the winter of MN’s self-contented career.

    Not for nothing has the vocal delivery of Michael Noonan of Fine Ghoul been compared to the sound of the sap slowly oozing out of the trunk of a maple tree. Both exude a gluggy smugness. After the drilling comes, sluggishly, the drooling and, then, the dripping of the drivel and the sap.

    On average, it takes thirty gallons of sap to produce one gallon of syrup but, sadly, the returns of this election would seem to be below par for the Fine Ghoul party. Nor enough saps lent their support.

    Maple syrup is sublime when poured over buttermilk pancake or waffles made of wholewheat flour. And there can be little dispute over which of those two tasty dishes Michael Noonan prefers to pour his syrupy voice.

    No movie is without a goof or two and ‘Bag of Bones’ is no exception. One of the goofs occurs when Noonan touches the tree with his right hand and gets hurt by whatever, he jogs away and in the next scene it is his left hand which is in pain. A and E department comes to mind here. (E for Elbow).

    Another goof is when Sara (Eire?) is murdered she spits blood over her killer’s shirt and face but moments later his shirt and face are clean.

    Density of syrup is measured on the Brix scale, much as the sweetness of wine is, including altar wine. (As wee Brian can verify). Indeed, the last joblet the Altar Boy of Anglo-Irish politics was charged with on his way home to oversee his latest disaster was to address the House of Lard Arses on the evils of Brixit.

    Fine Ghoul? Call it the Warp and the Goof Party.

    • Jude Collins February 27, 2016 at 3:55 pm #

      “After the drilling comes, sluggishly, the drooling and, then, the dripping of the drivel and the sap” – your mastery of sensuous language is matched only by that fine but short-lived English versifier, J Keats (1795-1821): “To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells/With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,/And still more, later flowers for the bees,/Until they think warm days will never cease/For Summer has o’erbrimm’d their clammy cells.” JK and PW: together, men of 10 senses…

      • paddykool February 27, 2016 at 4:41 pm #

        I have to agree Jude…the mighty Perk strikes hot sparks once again…

      • Sherdy February 27, 2016 at 6:33 pm #

        That’s the sort of coloratura prose that would have had the blue government censor’s pencil right through it, and would have been condemned from the Catholic altar some years ago!

        • Perkin Warbeck February 27, 2016 at 9:27 pm #

          GRMMA, a chairde fireanda.

          Make an orderly queue there, le bhur dtoil, in the autograph-line.

          Ladies first – see the delightful / ainnir alainn, Brid Ni Chianain below.

          As one did not wish to over-egg the padding one omitted to mention that one once spent a memorable time in New Hampshire during the maple syrup season. But will venture to do so now while you goys are forming the iine orderly. In the interests of keeping you interested.

          (Desist from pushing in the back there, pulease !).

          It was in the merry month of white February in the district known as Merramick where the Clydesdale horses of the Budweiser advertisement call home. The draught horses with the jingling harness and the white leggings not unlike those favoured by a typical tartan and bagpipe band from the bonnie banks of the Clyde. even as they skirl their blood-stirring way through, say, ‘Penny Arcade’.

          Merramick is not too far to the north of the twin towns of Derry and Londondery, NH. Twin, as in the sense of fraternal rather than identical. Or, indeed, south of a vast, hill-top Victorian hotel which some locals claim was the original of the Overlook Hotel in the most renowned of the slasher fillum adaptations of a Stephen King novel; the Shining.

          -Here’s Johnnnnnny !

          This is horror novelist Stephen King and honorary Shin Doctor, as it were, from the bordering state of Maine incidentally. Rather than Stephen KIng, the one time Spin Doctor from the Mainland. The very civiilised chap who once had one ear of David Trimble while the other ear was had by a Spin Doctor from the cold house of Catholic Cork, boy.

          The latter is Out of his Eoghan when it comes to modestly disclaiming his vital role in winning the knee-trimbling Nobel Prize for Peanut Farming. And who is poised to bashfully repel, possibly in his strong on fantasy weakly column in the Sindo tomorrow,, any suggestions that he, Out on his Eoghan, is the real Taoiseach in waiting. With Sunday morning coming down.

          All of which neatly suggests the next slasher story from the prolific pen of Stephen King. The title announces itself – Misery 2 – and the austere years of the recent past will serve as a back drop.

          It will be a two hander, a spine-trimbler, featuring a pair of masterly Spin Doctors. One of whom is chained to the bed by the other, in the latter’s log cabin, even as he nurses the other back to full health after thelatter’s own Oldsmobile spun off an icy mountain road..

          Only one issue to be resolved would be: which part would Kathy Bates, Oscar winning actress, get to reprise?

          The odds are on Stephen King.

          • Perkin Warbeck February 28, 2016 at 8:43 am #

            PS Oops, that latter SK ought, of course, going backwards, to read Steven King.

            One had quite forgotten that because the SK’s were both involved in the same genre, horror writing, and to avoid confusion, a deal was done. One would be Stephen and the other Steven.

            It is understood that this pact was in fact hammered out one, erm, Boxing Day.
            Mind you, the horror writing involved in Spin Doctoring scripts for the Unionists south of the Black Sow’s Dyke is on a far scarier level of slasher fare entirely. As even the most cursory of glances at the accursed X-rated Haxitariat which churns out urn loads of loyalist schlock on a daily basis from the Hammer Studios on Christopher Leeside and Liffeyside, will bear out.

            ‘Mummy’ is a recurring motif here.

            Little wonder therefore that as the Leprechaun for horror is (gasp) uamhan (pronounced uamhan) in low profile Leprechaun circles the Democratic Official Political Establishment (DOPE) in the Free Southern Stateeen is known as, erm, Uamhanism.

            More frequent senior moments (pronounced sen-or moments in Noonan speak) are also a factor in Senor Warbeck’s memory loss.

            Sadly, ephen The Perkin nods, even if only once or thrice in a Blue-Collar Blue-Shirt moon. Which can also result in his Howlin in the dull, sub-lunary way.

            Mea (gulp) culpa.

  7. Belfastdan February 27, 2016 at 3:11 pm #

    All in all a bad day for the Indo and the other media hacks who spent most of their time trying to put down SF and support the status quo.

    Well between the vote for independents and SF the real losers are the right wing media.

  8. Jim.hunter February 27, 2016 at 3:21 pm #

    Great story.jude.

    • Jude Collins February 27, 2016 at 3:28 pm #


  9. Ryan February 27, 2016 at 3:33 pm #

    You can be certain that all these political commentators and journalists that say SF is better off without Gerry Adams don’t have SF’s best interests at heart. In fact many of them have made a career out of trying to destroy SF for decades with resounding failure each time. So think about that when you hear them saying that Gerry should step down. Their agenda is to destroy SF, not increase their representation and make them a success.

    The reason why the troubles keep getting brought up isn’t because of Gerry Adams, its because that’s the agenda of the media and of Fine Gael/Labour/Fianna Fail politicians. Would they suddenly forget SF’s role in the troubles in the north if Gerry Adams wasn’t SF leader? Not a chance. It would still be used as a stick to beat SF, regardless of the leader.

    I recommend people read: “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu. War is waged every day, in politics, in business, in the media, etc It doesn’t have to be with guns and bullets. And War is exactly that’s being waged against SF, and it will continue with or without Gerry Adams as SF leader.

    Even though the counting is still in its early stages, I think in terms of seats Fianna Fail will be the big winners, with the biggest increase in seats. I think SF will do very well with over 25 TD’s.

    Will Fianna Fail and Fine Gael go into coalition? Why not? they are both very ideologically similar and I think the old Civil War politics will be put aside. This will be the best outcome for SF who will then be the major opposition party. I think that’s maybe the main reason why Fianna Fail will be reluctant to go into coalition with Fine Gael, because of the boost it will give SF.

    (BTW, was Michael McDowell one of the 5 goons who, with Gay Byrne, tried to ambush Gerry on the Late Late Show in 1994?)

    • jessica February 27, 2016 at 4:35 pm #

      “So think about that when you hear them saying that Gerry should step down. Their agenda is to destroy SF, not increase their representation and make them a success. ”

      Gerry will know better than anyone the right time for him to step down.

      Sinn Fein are now a contending party for leading the dail and for delivering change throughout this whole of this island. With each new TD they gain, they are guaranteeing that success will continue whether Gerry is leader or not.

      “And War is exactly that’s being waged against SF, and it will continue with or without Gerry Adams as SF leader.”

      The war was waged by Fine Gael, Labour and their supporters in the media, the people have responded with what they thought of it.

      It will be interesting to see whether the media learn anything from this, but I would say Gerry has faced them down well and clearly has once again won over the media war.

      “(BTW, was Michael McDowell one of the 5 goons who, with Gay Byrne, tried to ambush Gerry on the Late Late Show in 1994?)”

      Goon is too polite a word, there aren’t many politicians I consider as despicable as McDowell.

  10. Bríd Ní Chíanáin February 27, 2016 at 4:18 pm #

    Compulsory English Perkin! Some phrases just shift the paradigm. Love it!

  11. fiosrach February 27, 2016 at 4:55 pm #

    It would be useful if the majority of commentators/reporters in the 26 counties could pronounce the names of the two largest parties. I am sick of hearing about Feena Gale and Feena doesn’t do much for their street cred. Can’t wait for Gearóid MacAdaimh to be nominated as Taoiseach.

  12. Wolfe tone February 28, 2016 at 11:24 am #

    Although most media commentators won’t admit it S.F are in the driving seat in this election and FF are in a quandary. If they merge with FG then that will pave the way for SF to cement their position as the main opposition. And with the very real possibility of a bigger financial collapse on the horizon it would be just desserts if FF and FG are in govt at the time.
    In saying that SF I believe missed a trick in not being radical enough concerning water charges etc. If they had clearly urged folk not to pay the water tax then they wouldn’t have allowed independents to fill that void and thus secured more seats.