Why the current government is not a de facto FG/FF coalition

statsman

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 25, 2011
Messages
55,059
The last GE throw up probably the most interesting result in the history of the state, with no obvious majority bloc to be found in the Dail. Of course, there are those who insist that FG and FF should have gone into coalition, something that given the history of animosity between the parties and, yes, the policy gap, was never going to happen. and there are those who insist that the current minority arrangement is a de facto enactment of that fantasy.

However, cold numbers do not support his view. Here's a breakdown of the distribution of seats as thing stand:

  • FG: 50
  • FF: 44
  • SF: 23
  • Lab: 7
  • Solidarity/PBP: 6
  • I4C: 4
  • SDs: 2
  • Greens: 2
  • Independent Alliance: 6
  • Other Independents: 13
  • CC: 1

Now, as 79 votes are required to bring down the government, FF don't have the firepower needed to end the current arrangement without the support of SF and 12 others. Let's say Labour and Solidarity/PBP; a bit like herding mice. Plus, Labour would most likely abstain in any attempt to bring down the government, as would the SDs, so even more mice would need to be herded.

Assuming that FG can count on nine Indos, they actually only need the support of SF to stay in power (50 + 9+ 23 = 82). This may seem a bit far-fetched, but it's actually what happened in the vote on the Judicial Appointments Bill earlier this month. As an aside, Solidarity/PBP also voted with the government.

I suppose that a more mischievous poster might try to make a case for calling the current arrangement a de facto FG/SF coalition, but that would be just as wrong. What it is, in fact, is a straightforward minority administration dependent on confidence and supply of a kind not uncommon elsewhere but reasonably new to the Irish electorate. Attempts to paint it as anything else derive from ignorance, ideology, or a combination of the two.

And what of the future? My view is that FF are reluctant to bring about a GE that could well result in a third term in opposition, this time possibly facing an actual FG/SF/Others coalition agreement. They will certainly garner no comfort from the almost entirely flat polls since the 2016 election. Equally, SF do not trust FF and are closer to FG on the crucial matter of Brexit, so they have little interest in furthering an FF attempt to bring about an election.

So, I don't expect mere facts to trump blinkers when it comes to the idea that we are seeing an FG/FF coalition, or even a movement in that direction. I can understand that there are those on the left who would wish to see it for their own reasons, but “If wishes were fishes, we'd all cast nets.” Personally, I consider the prospect of a government of the centre right with 90-odd seats a fairly horrifying prospect, so I have my prejudices to contend with here. Nevertheless, as we seem to be in for an extended period of inconclusive election results, I think it behoves us all to grow up a bit and look at these things as they are, not as we would like them to be. Call me an optimist, but there we are.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confidence_and_supply

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irish_general_election,_2016

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2016_Irish_government_formation#Government_formation
 
Last edited:


ShoutingIsLeadership

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 17, 2011
Messages
49,731
The results were conclusive, just not the usual conclusion.

New politics is great...the Dail decides things. It's p1ssing the right of centre media off, and I love it!
 

hollandia

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 11, 2012
Messages
30,151
The last GE throw up probably the most interesting result in the history of the state, with no obvious majority bloc to be found in the Dail. Of course, there are those who insist that FG and FF should have gone into coalition, something that given the history of animosity between the parties and, yes, the policy gap, was never going to happen. and there are those who insist that the current minority arrangement is a de facto enactment of that fantasy.

However, cold numbers do not support his view. Here's a breakdown of the distribution of seats as thing stand:

  • FG: 49
  • FF: 45
  • SF: 23
  • Lab: 7
  • Solidarity/PBP: 6
  • I4C: 4
  • SDs: 2
  • Greens: 2
  • Independent Alliance: 6
  • Other Independents: 13
  • CC: 1

Now, as 79 votes are required to bring down the government, FF don't have the firepower needed to end the current arrangement without the support of SF and 11 others. Let's say Labour and Solidarity/PBP; a bit like herding mice. Plus, Labour would most likely abstain in any attempt to bring down the government, as would the SDs, so even more mice would need to be herded.

Assuming that FG can count on nine Indos, they actually only need the support of SF to stay in power (49 + 9+ 23 = 81). This may seem a bit far-fetched, but it's actually what happened in the vote on the Judicial Appointments Bill earlier this month. As an aside, Solidarity/PBP also voted with the government.

I suppose that a more mischievous poster might try to make a case for calling the current arrangement a de facto FG/SF coalition, but that would be just as wrong. What it is, in fact, is a straightforward minority administration dependent on confidence and supply of a kind not uncommon elsewhere but reasonably new to the Irish electorate. Attempts to paint it as anything else derive from ignorance, ideology, or a combination of the two.

And what of the future? My view is that FF are reluctant to bring about a GE that could well result in a third term in opposition, this time possibly facing an actual FG/SF/Others coalition agreement. They will certainly garner no comfort from the almost entirely flat polls since the 2016 election. Equally, SF do not trust FF and are closer to FG on the crucial matter of Brexit, so they have little interest in furthering an FF attempt to bring about an election.

So, I don't expect mere facts to trump blinkers when it comes to the idea that we are seeing an FG/FF coalition, or even a movement in that direction. I can understand that there are those on the left who would wish to see it for their own reasons, but “If wishes were fishes, we'd all cast nets.” Personally, I consider the prospect of a government of the centre right with 90-odd seats a fairly horrifying prospect, so I have my prejudices to contend with here. Nevertheless, as we seem to be in for an extended period of inconclusive election results, I think it behoves us all to grow up a bit and look at these things as they are, not as we would like them to be. Call me an optimist, but there we are.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confidence_and_supply

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irish_general_election,_2016

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2016_Irish_government_formation#Government_formation
What strikes me is that we are moving to a more European political landscape, such as in the Netherlands, whereby the vote is spread across multiple parties such that there are no parties capable of government formation on their own.

Looking at the spread of FF and FG - since Feb 2016 they have averaged 52-54%. Looking at the spread of poll results this is anywhere between 50 and 58% of total vote share - so absolutely nothing is cast in stone as far as their supporters would be concerned.

The possibilities then are*:

FF & FG - 50-58% vote share (I'll do some work on the potential nr of seats - but certainly in the 90-100 range)
FG & SF - 37-47% vote share (I'd imagine this would bring in anywhere between 65-85 seats)
FF & SF - As above.

Those are the three likely, potentially stable options to form the next govt.

The polls see Labour becalmed on 5-6%, and no doubt, some of that is the personal vote of their incumbents, who with the exception of Alan Kelly, have been in place for years, and are all of an age. If a Joan Burton, a Jan O' Sullivan or a Willie Penrose were to retire at the next election, there is no guarantee that their party replacements would get anywhere near their personal vote. So Labour on possibly 5 seats. (Or less)

*Disclaimer, this is purely numerical and makes no reference to the ideological differences between the various parties

Chapeau, to the OP.

Edit: the current dail arithmetic is such that there is no one party that can decide to bring the government down on its own. To do so would require FF + SF +13 others to vote against the govt. There is no indication that the various opposition parties agree sufficiently on any one issue for that to happen.

FF are in a bind here. They've given a commitment to support three budgets, which brings them to autumn next year. That means that the govt will find other ways, than relying on FF to support their programme if they need to, as they know that any election before 2018 will cast FF as untrustworthy - and who would want to form a coalition with a party that cannot be trusted to keep its word?
 
Last edited:

themorrigan

Active member
Joined
May 14, 2017
Messages
136
My view is that FF are reluctant to bring about a GE that could well result in a third term in opposition,
They're not in opposition. They're just back-back-benchers.

The real source of tension is that the FFers aren't sitting on plum Ministerial and State positions and raking in both cash and influence. This is getting especially sore as the economy and property sector improves. If a major construction boom begins and FF are not in government, Martin will go.
 

statsman

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 25, 2011
Messages
55,059
What strikes me is that we are moving to a more European political landscape, such as in the Netherlands, whereby the vote is spread across multiple parties such that there are no parties capable of government formation on their own.

Looking at the spread of FF and FG - since Feb 2016 they have averaged 52-54%. Looking at the spread of poll results this is anywhere between 50 and 58% of total vote share - so absolutely nothing is cast in stone as far as their supporters would be concerned.

The possibilities then are*:

FF & FG - 50-58% vote share (I'll do some work on the potential nr of seats - but certainly in the 90-100 range)
FG & SF - 37-47% vote share (I'd imagine this would bring in anywhere between 65-85 seats)
FF & SF - As above.

Those are the three likely, potentially stable options to form the next govt.

The polls see Labour becalmed on 5-6%, and no doubt, some of that is the personal vote of their incumbents, who with the exception of Alan Kelly, have been in place for years, and are all of an age. If a Joan Burton, a Jan O' Sullivan or a Willie Penrose were to retire at the next election, there is no guarantee that their party replacements would get anywhere near their personal vote. So Labour on possibly 5 seats. (Or less)

*Disclaimer, this is purely numerical and makes no reference to the ideological differences between the various parties

Chapeau, to the OP.
There are very strong rumours that Jan will retire, and the SDs are targeting the seat.
 

statsman

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 25, 2011
Messages
55,059
They're not in opposition. They're just back-back-benchers.

The real source of tension is that the FFers aren't sitting on plum Ministerial and State positions and raking in both cash and influence. This is getting especially sore as the economy and property sector improves. If a major construction boom begins and FF are not in government, Martin will go.
And how do you see them getting in to government?
 

hollandia

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 11, 2012
Messages
30,151
There are very strong rumours that Jan will retire, and the SDs are targeting the seat.
Yes a few of our elder statespeople will be shuffling off this political mortal coil in short order. Rumours are extremely strong regarding the end of Adams' tenure as SF president this autumn. I'd also be expecting Joan Burton to hang up her political boots next time out.

Limerick will be interesting with Noonan and O'Sullivan out of the picture. This of course is another variant to factor in in any future dail arithmetic, the loss of personal votes of big hitters who are retiring.

Like I said, I'll have a look at the potential number of seats for each party, but this is a hefty piece of work, given the vagaries of constituency changes and geographical and personal votes.
 

automaticforthepeople

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 22, 2012
Messages
4,671
Fianna Fail seem to have much access to Fine Gael as Labour did in the last government, for all the good it did Labour in the end.
 

statsman

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 25, 2011
Messages
55,059
Yes a few of our elder statespeople will be shuffling off this political mortal coil in short order. Rumours are extremely strong regarding the end of Adams' tenure as SF president this autumn. I'd also be expecting Joan Burton to hang up her political boots next time out.

Limerick will be interesting with Noonan and O'Sullivan out of the picture. This of course is another variant to factor in in any future dail arithmetic, the loss of personal votes of big hitters who are retiring.

Like I said, I'll have a look at the potential number of seats for each party, but this is a hefty piece of work, given the vagaries of constituency changes and geographical and personal votes.
Regardless of Noonan's departure, Limerick East will return

1 FG (with two candidates running)
1 FF (one candidate)
1 SF (one candidate)
1 from SD/Lab/Solidarity/PBP (3 candidates with not much of a 'personal' vote)
 

Plebian

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 20, 2011
Messages
9,254
Fianna Fail seem to have much access to Fine Gael as Labour did in the last government, for all the good it did Labour in the end.
Is there any substantial evidence that Labour were substantially opposed to FGs policies in the last Govt? If anything it was Labour who overtly swerved to the right in that Govt while FG moved towards FFs non ideological Mr fixit space during that time.
 

hollandia

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 11, 2012
Messages
30,151
Is there any substantial evidence that Labour were substantially opposed to FGs policies in the last Govt? If anything it was Labour who overtly swerved to the right in that Govt while FG moved towards FFs non ideological Mr fixit space during that time.
Other than their pre-election manifest, no there's not.
 

Plebian

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 20, 2011
Messages
9,254
Other than their pre-election manifest, no there's not.
In fairness to Labour, their position as a FG doppelganger of sorts predates the 2011 Govt by decades. FG and Labour go together like hand and glove and there was no excuse for any adult of a reasonable age not to understand that reality before GE 2011.
 

statsman

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 25, 2011
Messages
55,059
Other than their pre-election manifest, no there's not.
Once you accept that the days of one-party government are over, then pre-election manifestos are meaningless. Anyone who thinks that any party manifesto will be implemented in full, or even mostly, is living in LaLa land.
 

hollandia

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 11, 2012
Messages
30,151
In fairness to Labour, their position as a FG doppelganger of sorts predates the 2011 Govt by decades. FG and Labour go together like hand and glove and there was no excuse for any adult of a reasonable age not to understand that reality before GE 2011.
Looking at where FF are now post 2011 only demonstrates that Irish people have the political memories of goldfish.
 

hollandia

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 11, 2012
Messages
30,151
Once you accept that the days of one-party government are over, then pre-election manifestos are meaningless. Anyone who thinks that any party manifesto will be implemented in full, or even mostly, is living in LaLa land.
I think everyone accepts that, however, being in a coalition, where you are supplying one third of the bulk, you would expect that you'd get approximately one third of your policies implemented. SSM is Labour's only notable achievement in govt.
 

statsman

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 25, 2011
Messages
55,059
In fairness to Labour, their position as a FG doppelganger of sorts predates the 2011 Govt by decades. FG and Labour go together like hand and glove and there was no excuse for any adult of a reasonable age not to understand that reality before GE 2011.
Apart, of course, for their period in government with FF.
 

statsman

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 25, 2011
Messages
55,059
I think everyone accepts that, however, being in a coalition, where you are supplying one third of the bulk, you would expect that you'd get approximately one third of your policies implemented. SSM is Labour's only notable achievement in govt.
Reality slapped most of their promises in the face.
 

hollandia

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 11, 2012
Messages
30,151
Reality slapped most of their promises in the face.
Well, the time to do that is in negotiating a programme for govt. Here's what we want, or you go to the polls. The reality is, they lay down and got their bellies rubbed.
 

statsman

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 25, 2011
Messages
55,059
Well, the time to do that is in negotiating a programme for govt. Here's what we want, or you go to the polls. The reality is, they lay down and got their bellies rubbed.
I voted Labour to avoid an FG majority government. A bit of a disappointment.
 


New Threads

Popular Threads

Most Replies

Top