Socialist Worker

Bosses' party implodes as left makes gains in Irish election

by Simon Basketter
Issue No. 2241

Voters in Ireland have given the main Irish bosses’ party a drubbing in the country’s general election.

The radical left made a significant breakthrough with the United Left Alliance (ULA) winning five TDs (MPs).

The biggest shift was the collapse in support for the ruling Fianna Fáil party.

Its share of the vote fell to less than 15 percent nationally—compared to 42 percent in 2007.

This is the worst ever defeat for the party that has dominated Irish politics since 1921. It had been in power since 1997.

Political dynasties that have controlled constituencies for decades are now gone.

The Irish Green Party, which propped up the Fianna Fáil government in coalition, was destroyed and now has no members in parliament.

The last government launched a brutal assault on working class living standards after becoming mired in corruption scandals.

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

And the ability of the trade union leadership to keep a lid on struggle means the crisis has been predominantly one of parliamentary politics.

Corruption

Right wing Fine Gael is less associated with the corruption and excesses of Fianna Fáil, so suffered less at the ballot box.

The Irish Labour Party saw its highest number of TDs elected, 36, as people moved en masse from the establishment parties.

But its determined lack of radicalism means that it will not use that vote to campaign against austerity. It is likely to go into coalition with the bosses’ second preference party Fine Gael.

Sinn Fein also gained significantly. But the radical left breakthrough is important.

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

Richard Boyd Barrett beat two sitting cabinet ministers to get elected. He told Socialist Worker, “The ULA will be a significant force in Irish politics. We oppose bailing out the banks, the austerity deal and the cuts.

“We’ve had a fantastic response—there is an appetite for change. We will use the Dail as a platform to mobilise people to stop further cuts.

“The main parties have gone along with the cuts. Disgracefully Labour has rolled over to the IMF and is prepared to jump into bed with Fine Gael.

“We will campaign inside and outside the Dail to make the wealthy pay for the mess they have created.”


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Tue 1 Mar 2011, 18:46 GMT
Issue No. 2241
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