Voters in Ireland on Friday are determined to oust Fianna Fail, the nation’s ruling party, to punish its members for the nation’s economic collapse, according to polls. The polls suggest that the former majority party, which has dominated Ireland since the country’s independence from Britain, may retain as few as 20 seats out of the 166 that make up the parliament. That would be a severe comedown for the party that has run the nation for 61 of the last 79 years.
Reuters reported that it is possible the center-right Fine Gael party may take up to 80 seats, which would make the formation of a single-party government possible for the first time. Generally, however, analysts expect that Fine Gael will join forces with center-left Labour to form a coalition government. Both parties have campaigned on a platform of renegotiation of the bailout package Ireland received in 2010 from the European Union (EU) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF); Irish citizens see the package as punitive.
Enda Kenny, leader of Fine Gael, has already gone to Germany and Belgium on a quest to change the terms of the package. While it is possible that the costs of Ireland’s borrowing may be reduced in any revision of the agreement, it’s considered doubtful that there would be any provision for Irish bank bondholders to have to accept haircuts as part of the measure.
The biggest division between Labour and Fine Gael is Labour’s insistence on an extra year to reduce the deficit to the EU’s limit of under 3% of GDP. Last year the deficit was nearly 12%. Sinn Fein and other hard-left parties have been rising in the polls on a proposition to altogether discard the bailout agreement, but they are not expected to gain a large presence in parliament.
David Farrell, a politics professor at University College Dublin, was quoted in the report saying, "There is a seething anger, and the election is acting as a pressure valve. But the incoming government won't have much of a honeymoon either.”