The Irish Greens and how not to do coalition politics
March 2, 2011 § 1 Comment
The results of the Republic of Ireland’s General Election have been very interesting.
The centre-right Fine Gael, which has been the traditional opposition party in the country’s lower house, has won power; the more left-wing Fianna Fail-which has been in power for 61 of the last 79 years-is now not only in opposition but is only the third largest party behind the Irish Labour Party.
But, besides the change in Government, perhaps the biggest shock has been the demolition, via the ballot box, of the Irish Green Party, going from being part of the Coalition administration with Fianna Fail and having six seats to, after the election, having no seats at all.
Now, of course, there are very particular circumstances in Ireland, with all the fall out following what some have called the ‘failed Irish economic’ experiment and then the country having to go cap-in-hand to the IMF, so trying to draw too many lessons or comparisons for us and our position in the UK Government would be wrong.
But one thing is clear, as the Irish Greens appear to admit themselves, certainly in the early years of the Government of which they were apart, they did not have enough influence on the administration and its policies.
That is obviously totally different from the position we Liberal Democrats find ourselves in…we have a comprehensive coalition agreement and play a full partnership role and 65% of our manifesto commitments are now being enacted.
We have greater Parliamentary strength with which to lobby and so on.
But of course it is, perhaps, the starkest example of what can happen to smaller parties as part of Coalition’s, if those parties are not careful.
We need to continually be making it clear, as the likes of Tim Farrron are doing, the difference we being in Government is making; the progressive measures we’re taking, the lives we’re helping to change for the better.
The Irish Greens now face a very tough uphill struggle.
Only time will tell if or when they’ll return to being a national political force.