Sinn Féin’s success leads to attempted coalition of traditional parties

Photo by Phil Noble/Reuters: Sinn Fein supporters rallying on 9 February election day

Contributed by Ben Wilson

Ireland is stuck with a parliament where a party cannot put together a majority to form government. The limbo has been around since the election in February.

What happened is that people had lost faith in the two-party dominated political system.  The two are the Fine Gael and the Fianna Fáil. One or the other has been in government for almost 100 years. The Fine Gael had made up the last one.

Then there was a sharp voting turn. Sinn Féin got more votes than any other party. This is the party best known in Australia for its activity in the British ruled counties in the north, and its association with the Irish Republican Army (IRA), before the turn towards a political solution. It’s policies in the Irish Republic, described as left-wing, mark it apart from the traditional parties.

It got a 10.7 percent swing to get 24 percent of the vote, compared to 20.9 percent for Fine Gail and 22.1 percent for Fianna Fail. The Green Party also gained.

No party has been able to form government, But it seems, the traditional parties are so afraid that the apple cart might be turned over, that they have just agreed to join forces against Sinn Féin and try to form a coalition for the next 5 years. According to the agreement reached, the Taoiseach (equivalent of Prime Minister) position will be shared, with the leaders of the two parties taking turns at the role.

No one expected such a victory for Sinn Féin. The other two parties have refused to deal with it.

But the two parties are still short of a majority. They are trying to get the Green Party to join them. So far this has not worked. The Green Party and the other minority parties say they remain skeptical.

If the plan falls through Ireland will go to another election.

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