Socialist Worker

Bosses' party implodes as left makes gains in Irish election

by Simon Basketter
Issue No. 2240

Voters have given the main Irish bosses' party a drubbing in the country’s general election. And the radical left has made a breakthrough, getting at five TDs elected.

The biggest shift is the slump in support for the Fianna Fáil. Its share of the vote fell to less than 15 percent nationally – compared to 42 percent in the 2007 election.

This is the worst ever defeat for the party that has dominated Irish politics since independence from Britain in 1921 and that has been in power since 1997.

Fianna Fáil’s support in Dublin stood at less than 8 percent. They went from 13 to 1 TD in the capital. This is from a party that historically had 100,000 members when the country’s population was 3.5 million. It previously would have expected to get 40 percent of working class votes. Political dynasties that have controlled constituencies for decades are gone and places that have returned Fianna Fáil TDs (MPs) since the 1920s are now looking elsewhere.

The Irish Green Party, which had slavishly propped up the Fianna Fáil government in coalition, was decimated at the polls and now has no member in parliament.

The Irish Labour Party vote rose massively. But its determined lack of radicalism means that it will not look to use that vote to campaign against austerity. Instead, it is likely to go into coalition with the bosses’ second preference party Fine Gael. Sinn Fein gained and looked set to be the biggest opposition party after getting around 18 percent of the vote.

The radical left made a significant breakthrough with the candidates who are part of the United Left Alliance.

The newly elected TDs in the Alliance are Richard Boyd Barrett for the People before Profit Alliance, Joan Collins of the People before Profit Alliance, Joe Higgins of the Socialist Party, Clare Daly of the Socialist Party, and Seamus Healy of the Tipperary Unemployed and Works Action Group.

Other members of the United Left Alliance polled strongly.

The last government launched a brutal assault on working class living standards after becoming mired in corruption scandals involving bankers and property developers.

A £73 billion bank bailout by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund meant hammering the poor and the vulnerable.

The ability of the union leadership to keep a lid on struggle against austerity has meant the crisis has been predominantly a crisis of parliamentary politics. Fine Gael are not associated with the corrupt pro-banker and pro-developer excesses of Fianna Fáil and have gained at the ballot box.

But both Labour and Fine Gael backed the IMF bailout of the banks. The next few months will see them implement the same austerity that led to the collapse of Fianna Fáil.

Come back to as the final results come in.

Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'

Article information

Sat 26 Feb 2011, 21:57 GMT
Issue No. 2240
Share this article

Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.