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The Irish General Election (Update 3)

by Frank Schnittger Wed Feb 2nd, 2011 at 04:18:06 AM EST


Trends in party political support since the 2007 general election

[Third update 3/2/11 12.05AM] Another new poll - this time from MRBI - has just been published which is more in line with previous trends for party support, but shows Enda Kenny out-polling Michael Martin as choice for Taoiseach for the first time. I have updated the chart above to include the new numbers for party support. Previous campaigns have seen perhaps half a dozen polls published over a 4 week period - we have now had that many polls in 4 days.[End Update]

[Second update 2/2/11 3.00PM] Another new poll - this time from Paddy Power/Red C- has just been published which shows quite divergent results from previous polls - Fine Gael up to 37% and Labour down to 19%. Obviously we have to be careful comparing polls from different polling companies, but that is why I have developed a database of polls to allow us to see past the noise of individual polls and see the longer term trends. If the results of this particular poll were replicated in the election, it would make the prospect of a minority Fine Gael Government much more likely. Independents are down to 11% in this poll but other changes are within the margin of error and so I won't be commenting on them.[End Update]

[Update 1/2/11 9.15PM] A new poll by Milward Brown has just been published which shows Fine Gael at 30% (-4) and Sinn Fein returning to an earlier high point of 13% (+3). All other parties are the same. It is significant that Fianna Fail have received no further boost from the election of Michael Martin as leader and that Fine Gael have gone down despite (because of?) their meeting with Barroso. The chart above has been updated to reflect these latest figures.[End Update]

Two new opinion polls published on 30th. January have given us additional data points on the likely outcome of the General Election to be called by Brian Cowen tomorrow (Tuesday) and expected to take place on 25th. February. Both polls were in the field last Wednesday and Thursday, after the Cowen implosion and just as Fianna Fail were electing their new leader, Michael Martin.

front-paged by afew


Michael Martin emerges as the most popular party leader in the MRBI poll, with 31% favouring him for Taoiseach, with 26% for the previous front runner, Labour leader Eamon Gilmore, and 19% for the perennially perceived lightweight, Enda Kenny. However, Kenny, as leader of the most popular party, Fine Gael, is still the most likely next Taoiseach.

So what outcomes can we predict based on:

  1. The data to hand
  2. Experience of previous polls/elections
  3. Campaign events to date?

1. Fianna Fail

As the most recent polls were in the field just as Michael Martin was being elected, it is unclear whether they capture the full effect of any Martin "bounce", or, indeed, any criticisms and negative impacts his leadership may have.  There is certainly a concern that a Cork based leader will be of little help to many beleaguered FF candidates in Dublin.

However as several polls both before and after his election have shown, he is by far the most popular leader FF could have elected, and there is already some evidence that his effect on their polling will be generally positive.  The last comparable poll showed FF at 13%, so their current polling at 16% is already an improvement.  However a small poll (sample 200) front-paged by the Sunday Independent last week without any methodological details showed FF at only 8% at the height of the Cowen implosion.  So it is possible that the FF vote has already doubled since its low point.

There may also be a "shy voter" effect whereby some of those polled are embarrassed to admit to voting FF and this may be behind at least part of the rise in those saying they will vote Independent to 15%. As voters vote for candidates rather than parties under the Irish single transferable vote system, there may also be a local candidate effect whereby FF have a preponderance of well known and established incumbent candidates who are not shy of distancing themselves from the FF brand when it suits them.  

FF numbers generally improve as campaigns progress (they achieved 42% in the last election even though the average of their polls over the previous 6 months was only 38%) and their leader is now the most popular personality and perhaps most able debater. Most pundits would therefore expect FF to "achieve" c. 20% of the vote and 30+ seats - a huge decline from 42% and 77 seats at the 2007 general election.

2. Fine Gael

Fine Gael have been polling consistently in the mid 30's in recent polls, and like Fianna Fail, tend to do better in the actual election than prior polls would suggest - they polled 27% in the last general election having averaged 24% in opinion polls over the previous 6 months. This is largely because their base - middle class, rural and older - tends to have a higher turnout at election time.

As against that, their Leader, Enda Kenny, has consistently polled badly and is regarded as a poor campaigner/debater. Under most circumstances, the electorate has difficulty in identifying policy differences between Fianna Fail and Fine Gael -  Fine Gael generally presenting itself as more prudent, competent, and ethical than Fianna Fail - as befits a party largely representing professional and propertied classes.  

However in this election Fine Gael has successfully differentiated itself from Fianna Fail by opposing the blanket bank bailout/guarantee  and by arguing for a renegotiation of the IMF/ECB deal.  They can thus present themselves as a genuine alternative despite the fact that in terms of economic ideology they are at least as elite orientated as Fianna Fail.  They just represent different strands of the elite!

It is thus likely that Fine Gael will be, by far, the largest party after the election, and may even have enough seats to form a minority Government with some independent support.  They would fit in very comfortably with the EPP majority within the EU.

3. Labour

This has been a difficult campaign to date for the Labour Party, squeezed on the left by Sinn Fein and the United Left Alliance (lumped under Independents in all polls to date); and on the right by a more assertive Fine Gael successfully differentiating themselves from Fianna Fail's policies in Government.

Labour has lost c. 10% in the polls since its high point of 33% in Sept. 2010 when it actually out-polled Fine Gael by 33 to 24%. There are various views on why this has been the case. Fine Gael have recovered from a failed leadership heave against Enda Kenny  in June 2010. Many regard Labour's refusal to countenance any prospect of working with Sinn Fein as a mistake - given that Sinn Fein have been able to work even with Loyalist parties in Northern Ireland.

Neither were Labour helped by a petulant performance by their Finance spokes-person, Joan Burton, in a television debate with the Socialist Party's Joe Higgins MEP on "Tonight with Vincent Browne" - admittedly not helped by a characteristically boorish performance by the host.  For a flavour of this debate, see the you tube clip below:

The bottom line is that Labour is now fighting to retain second place against a slightly improving Fianna Fail and could end up (again) as the junior partner in a Government dominated by Fine Gael. Given Labour's failure to develop any kind of working relationship with others on the left, and determination to work only with Fine Gael, it is a fate which they have perhaps created for themselves.

4. Sinn Féin

Given that Sinn Fein are the only party to have opposed the IMF/ECB bail-out in full, it is perhaps surprising to see their support declining from 13 to 10% in the last poll.  However their leader, Gerry Adams, is seen as a near illiterate on economic matters in a campaign dominated by economic issues. With only four TD's in the outgoing parliament Sinn Fein have lacked effective spokes-persons with the exception of the recently elected successful candidate in the Donegal by-election, Pearse Doherty. Labour never misses an opportunity to remind all who will listen that Sinn Fein failed to oppose the Bank guarantee initially - almost certainly because of Sinn Féin's inexperience in parliamentary manoeuvring.

Sinn Féin also, typically, does less well in actual elections as opposed to opinion polls, partly because (like all smaller parties) they do not run candidates in all constituencies, and also because their younger and working class base is less likely to turn out.  Undoubtedly they will significantly increase their parliamentary representation this time, but the moment when they might even have out-polled Fianna Fail is probably over, now that Brian Cowen has resigned as leader.

5. Greens

The Greens are bumping along the bottom within the 3% margin of error of most polls. However they are only running candidates in a few constituencies and some of these are high profile resigning Ministers.  The Greens may have regained some credibility by finally pulling the plug on the Government and they only need a few of their candidates to buck the national trend to be in with a chance of retaining a couple of seats. However they may only be clutching at some of the straws which have already broken the camel's back...

6. Independents

Although they may form a technical group to obtain more parliamentary rights, the Independents tend to be quite a disparate group of small parties like Joe Higgin's Socialist party and "colourful personalities" like Jackie Healy-Rae who are focused almost entirely on issues local to their constituencies.

Groups such as the United Left Alliance which includes the Socialist party, have (so far unsuccessfully) sought to persuade pollsters to disaggregate the Independents vote and poll the ULA separately. This is a not unreasonable request given that the Independents poll numbers have now risen to 15%, and the Green Party, which is polled separately, is down at 1 or 2%.  However much of the support for independents is of the "plague on all your houses" variety, some shy Fianna Failers, and a wide variety of local candidates with no collective brand identity, so it is very difficult to extrapolate those numbers into likely seats actually won. Many higher profile independents such as Senator Shane Ross, a stockbroker and financial journalist and author who has written widely condemning crony capitalism and bank bail-outs will undoubtedly do well.

Conclusion

Based on the above, I would expect an outcome somewhat approximating to the following:

(Labour to do better than Fianna Fail in terms of seats on similar first preference vote totals because they attract much higher numbers of lower preference votes from all corners).

What is interesting about this outcome is that it is fundamentally unstable.  Fianna Fail are campaigning to go into opposition, not into Government. They have said they might support a minority Fine Gael Government if it implemented the IMF/ECB plan, but the entire history of Fianna Fail in opposition is to be as obstructive as possible, and it is difficult to see such an arrangement lasting for long.

Fine Gael, on their own, would have difficulty forming a Government as many independents and Sinn Fein are significantly to the left of them.  A Fine Gael Labour coalition would be incredibly unwieldy with an imbalanced 105/60 Government to Opposition split and with many disappointed bank-benchers not receiving a Ministerial job. The history of all coalitions is that the junior partner tends to be decimated at the next election, so why would Labour write it's own death warrant to become, once again a 10% marginal party? (Ok ok, so why change the habits of a lifetime...)

Sinn Fein and the ULA have argued for a right-left re-alignment of Irish politics with Fine Gael and Fianna Fail forced to cohabitate and faced by a (more or less united) Labour/Sinn Fein/Independents opposition. Perhaps Labour's biggest strategic mistake has been to rule out any alliance on the Left which left it with no option but to seek to coalesce with Fine Gael. Voters tend vote for leading parties, not junior partners, and Labour to form a Government on it's own was never a credible alternative. Now even a second place finish by Labour is no longer a foregone conclusion.

On the numbers above, a Labour Fianna Fail coalition is just about feasible, but there is no way that I can see Fianna Fail agreeing to an arrangement which might consolidate its minority status in Irish politics.  Unlike Labour, Fianna Fail realises that it needs to play a long game if it is to capitalise on the unpopularity of a successor Government implementing more or less the policies it has institutionalised through the IMF/ECB deal.

Readers may wonder how the disastrous conduct of economic policy by the present Government could lead to so little change - a perhaps marginally renegotiated IMF/ECB plan implemented by a Fine Gael or Fine Gael/Labour government with a broadly similar economic ideology.  Why has the economic implosion of Ireland not led to a political implosion like Tunisia or Egypt? The presence of a broadly functioning democratic system is perhaps part of the answer. A broad consensus on EU membership and the responsibilities this entails is perhaps another reason.

But unless I am missing something rather dramatic, the economic implosion is not yet leading to political revolution, or even anything much more than a change of Government with marginally different policies.  However if the next Government fails to lift Ireland out of a deflationary/recessionary cycle, all political bets will be off as well.

Poll
The Next Irish Government will be made up of:
. 1. Fine Gael and Labour 100%
. 2. Minority Fine Gael with Fianna Fail support 0%
. 3. Fianna Fail and Labour 0%
. 4. Labour and Fianna Fail 0%
. 5. Labour, Sinn Fein, and Independents 0%
. 6. Formal Fine Gael Fianna Fail coalition 0%

Votes: 3
Results | Other Polls
Display:
Brian Cowen has just announced that he will not stand for re-election in the Laois Offaly constituency.  He had been regarded as one of the few "safe" Fianna Fail TD's if he chose to stand for re-election. His departure means FF will likely lose two seats in the constituency - declining from 3 out of 5 to 1 out of 5.  However his departure may help FF nationally in helping new leader, Michael Martin, to distance the party from the actions of the last Government.  

I'm not sure the Irish electorate really has such a short memory, particularity as Michael Martin continues to endorse the bank bail-out and IMF/ECB plan.  However I am mindful that the US elected a large GOP House majority only two years after the departure of one of the most unpopular Presidents of all time.  But 4 weeks?  Can memories really be that short?

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Jan 31st, 2011 at 03:08:31 PM EST
European Tribune - The Irish General Election
However their leader, Gerry Adams, is seen as a near illiterate on economic matters in a campaign dominated by economic issues.
Yeah, because Fianna FAIL™ and the Greens know so much about economic management...

Keynesianism is intellectually hard, as evidenced by the inability of many trained economists to get it - Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 1st, 2011 at 04:01:09 AM EST
Fianna Fail are actually campaigning on the correctness of their bank guarantee, IMF/ECB strategy and will support a FG Government only if it implements same.  The Greens actually voted for the Budget implementing the IMF/ECB plan even after they had resigned from Government and were sitting on the opposition benches.

The TINA Narrative is still very strong.

Ironically most opposition to the TINA narrative has come from Sinn Fein and from the left and right of civil society, with a number of journalists - Fintan O'Otoole, David McWiliams, Eamon Dunphy - seeking to form an alternative party and former FG Taoiseach, John Bruton, Shane Ross and a few others calling for a radical  renegotiation of the plan.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Feb 1st, 2011 at 11:34:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank Schnittger:
Fianna Fail are actually campaigning on the correctness of their bank guarantee
LOL

I invite you to look back at the following diaries and threads:

Did the Irish just end Globalization? by ManfromMiddletown on October 2nd, 2008

LQD: Put your money into Irish Banks by Frank Schnittger on October 2nd, 2008

Bailouts, 'illegal state aid' and the Commission's value system by Migeru on October 1st, 2008

Interesting Times in Eurozone Banking. by Colman on September 30th, 2008

Keynesianism is intellectually hard, as evidenced by the inability of many trained economists to get it - Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 1st, 2011 at 12:22:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't see any reason why the outcome couldn't be a straightforward Fine Gael - Labour coalition.

The fact is that any two of the largest three parties will be able to form a government.

Keynesianism is intellectually hard, as evidenced by the inability of many trained economists to get it - Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 1st, 2011 at 06:55:36 AM EST
That's the most likely outcome at this stage, though there's going to be a fair bit of tension between the two on policy.

If FG do well enough, FF might support a FG minority government in the hope it would be short lived. Labour might do the same if they judge that agreeing to a right-wing programme for a coalition will do to them what coalition with FF did for the Greens and coalition with the Tories looks like doing to the Lib Dems. It all depends on final numbers.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 1st, 2011 at 07:03:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Logically you would think that that should be the case, but the history of coalitions with lrge majorities is very fraught in Ireland.  Jack Lynch, Fianna Fail Taoiseach, was ousted in 1979 by his own party two years after leading them to a record majority and single party Government (with 51% of the vote).  Jack Lynch famously said on the night of his great victory that his majority was too large and would lead to problems caused by disgruntled backbenchers.

The current FGF/Greens coalition didn't actually need the Greens to form a Government in 2007 but gradually lost its majority through an unusually high number of resignations, by-election defeats etc. partly because backbenchers try to use their vote as leverage for "pork barrel" spending directed at their constituencies when they know they have the luxury of doing so without actually bring down the Government in the short term.

Obama arguably achieved more in congress after he lost his 60 seat super majority in the Senate perhaps for partly similar reasons. A 105/60 Government/opposition split would be hugely greater than any precious majority - the largest previous majority being the 84/64 majority of the Jack Lynch Government.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Feb 1st, 2011 at 11:08:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Are you saying that a government supported by Fianna Fail's 35, Labour's 40 and 10 independents at an 85/81 majority would be more stable than FG+Lab at 105/61?

Keynesianism is intellectually hard, as evidenced by the inability of many trained economists to get it - Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 1st, 2011 at 11:35:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
FF wouldn't accept going into Government as a minority partner, but if the numbers were reversed - FF 40, Lab 35, left independents or Sinn Fein 10 - then probably yes - if they could get over the initial hump of anyone agreeing to work with FF and Lab agreeing to work with Sinn Fein.  Such an option might be more likely after a subsequent election when FF have been decontaminated in opposition for a while.

The problem with a FG/Lab Government with 105 seats is that v. quickly the polls will change as unpopular policies are implemented and Lab will be back to 10% support.  Then, faced with the high probability of losing their seats - Labour could be back to 15 seats on a 10% poll - their backbenchers will start revolting and holding the Government to ransom for largess for their constituencies.  Labour could even split as backbenchers face annihilation unless they distance themselves from the Government.  An anti-IMF faction will emerge and seek to make common cause with SF and the ULA.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Feb 1st, 2011 at 11:44:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm going to really, really, despair of politics if the result of the crisis is a FF government with Labour support.

Keynesianism is intellectually hard, as evidenced by the inability of many trained economists to get it - Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 1st, 2011 at 12:26:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As I said - FF are campaigning to go into opposition - a peculiar stance for any party to adopt - but one which recognises the opprobrium in which they are held.

FF as part of a ruling coalition is probably only an option for the election after this.  What is worthy of despair is Labour buying into the TINA narrative to a FG/Lab coalition even if they still claim to be campaigning as an independent party.

I agree that a FG/Lab coalition is the most likely outcome - unless FG do spectacularly well - but I'm not convinced the resulting Government would be stable - and the ultimate outcome will be Labour once again consigned to the margins.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Feb 1st, 2011 at 12:38:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The President has dissolved the Dail at the request of the Taoiseach and set the election date for 25th. February as expected. Brian Cowen becomes the first Taoiseach not to stand for re-election and as many as half of the current members of the Dail are not expected to be re-elected.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Feb 1st, 2011 at 12:50:37 PM EST
What I'm getting from all this is the majority of Irish politicians don't understand the situation.  

Not that they are unique in that, of course.  

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Tue Feb 1st, 2011 at 01:05:41 PM EST
We are where we are is the dominant slogan - meaning we are now stuck with the debt and our only way of repaying it is via the IMF/ECB possibly after a little renegotiation.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Feb 1st, 2011 at 02:01:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There's lots of stuff the Irish government could do even under the Paying It Back" scenario.  

Financial transfer fees to the tune of ... oh, I don't know ... 125% of the money being transfered?  ;-)

A one-time 100% tax on corporate profits?

A "special" land-use and service charge fees for trans-national corporations.

and so on.

The underlying necessity for these, and other possible actions, is a willingness to accept Neo-Classical Economics is wrong.


Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Tue Feb 1st, 2011 at 02:45:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The cornerstone of the received wisdom is that attracting foreign direct investment, particularly from leading US companies, is critical to Irish economic development, jobs, recovery etc.-  thus any suggestion that corporation tax be increased is off limits even for Sinn Fein (AFAIK).

Property taxes cannot discriminate against any particular class of owners and are seen by the bourgeoisie - the base for both FF and FG - as off limits in anything but a token way.  

Labour has even abandoned a policy calling for a 48% top rate of income tax (for those earning over 100k)- admittedly after the Universal Social Charge introduced in the budget jacked up marginal tax rates for EVERYONE.

The ECB will demand its money back in full - regardless of any levies en route.  Don't you know who really runs Ireland now?  We have to report to the IMF/ECB on a quarterly basis and will be punished by further interest rates hikes if we are bold.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Feb 1st, 2011 at 02:59:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The cornerstone of the received wisdom is that attracting foreign direct investment ... is critical to Irish economic development

Until that cornerstone is removed you're screwed.

That's not how economic development happens.  

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Tue Feb 1st, 2011 at 03:24:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
(Wanted to separate comment)

By what you say I conclude the choice is coming down to:

  1. Leave the EU, leave the euro.  

  2. Go back to being a colony.


Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot
by ATinNM on Tue Feb 1st, 2011 at 03:27:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No its TINA - option 1 does not exist.
Being part of EU is not seen as going back to being a colony - yet - although if Merkel, Barroso et al keep up the lectures, that reality may dawn on people soon.  Note the Brits have more sense and are keeping mum.  They got burned trying to pacify Ireland before...as will the EU if i doesn't get more cop soon.  When it comes to playing a long game, no one can play it longer than the Irish. The battle of Clontarf (1014) was only yesterday, after all, and if we have to kick the Norse out again...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Feb 1st, 2011 at 03:52:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
All the three main parties (Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Labour) have agreed that the Irish public must repay private gambling debts to the tune of €90bn, give or take a few billion and a couple of points on interest rates.

While it will be nice to see the back of FF as a party of government, the election is a dull foregone conclusion of 'as you were'.  It gets interesting, to those outside Ireland, where elections are a kind of blood sport, when Europe has to face up the unpayability of public debt in the periphery.

We need European-wide Egyptian-style days of anger against those who have hijacked the European idea for to boost their insatiable accumulation of wealth.

by Pope Epopt on Tue Feb 1st, 2011 at 01:40:13 PM EST
Jeez, didn't you guys get the Bloomberg memo on why Iceland got it right (although they did have the advantage of own currency.) I wonder if that article is being passed around Dail circles? Now why can't i find it.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin
by Crazy Horse on Tue Feb 1st, 2011 at 04:03:46 PM EST
The Dail is now dissolved.  Sinn Fein and a few commentators (outside the Dail) have been articulating the case for Default.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Feb 1st, 2011 at 04:48:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Found the article.


Unlike other nations, including the U.S. and Ireland, which injected billions of dollars of capital into their financial institutions to keep them afloat, Iceland placed its biggest lenders in receivership. It chose not to protect creditors of the country's banks, whose assets had ballooned to $209 billion, 11 times gross domestic product.

Krona Devaluation

The crisis almost sank the country. The krona lost 58 percent of its value by the end of November 2008, inflation spiked to 19 percent in January 2009 and GDP contracted by 7 percent that year. Prime Minister Geir H. Haarde resigned after nationwide protests. With the economy projected to grow 3 percent this year, Iceland's decision to let the banks fail is looking smart -- and may prove to be a model for others.

"Iceland did the right thing by making sure its payment systems continued to function while creditors, not the taxpayers, shouldered the losses of banks," says Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz, an economics professor at Columbia University in New York. "Ireland's done all the wrong things, on the other hand. That's probably the worst model."

Sure puts the blind rush to pass the financial aid bill in perspective.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Wed Feb 2nd, 2011 at 05:30:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
See my response to Montereyan below.  Perhaps the differences between Ireland and Iceland (besides 1 letter and 6 months) are:

  1. There is no way Iceland could have guaranteed foreign creditors of Iceland banks as their debts were 11 times GNP.  In Ireland's case its more like 2/3 times GNP and so a debate about viability is possible.

  2. Ireland has a much larger and functioning "real economy" including a still growing export sector and a positive balance of payments

  3. Ireland is a member of the EU and all the obligations this entailed

  4. Ireland's economy is very open and thus very dependent on good relations with neighbours

  5. Ireland, as a member of the Eurozone could not easily devalue its currency

  6. Due to poor analysis, regulation and leadership, the banking crises became conflated with other economic issues - property bubble, loss of competitiveness, public sector cost increases and inefficiency - which did and do have to tackled anyway.

  7. Ireland still has the remnants of an historical post-colonial inferiority complex whereby we are hypersensitive to how we are perceived by others and feel powerless in dealing with large global players,  markets and institutions. Appeasing the Gods of the global markets was an over-riding elite concern.

  8. The interests of the ruling class and very much tied in with the EU and global business/finance

That's my first off the cuff attempt to "explain" why Ireland acted differently to Iceland.  I would be interested in other people's views.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Feb 2nd, 2011 at 06:49:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think 2, 4, 6, and 8 also apply to Iceland. In particular:
Due to poor analysis, regulation and leadership, the [Irish] banking crises became conflated with other economic issues - property bubble, loss of competitiveness, public sector cost increases and inefficiency - which did and do have to tackled anyway.
For Iceland's "poor analysis, regulation and leadership", see the Economic Disaster Area blog: Outside Their Capabilities - Politicians Can Not Say Sorry For Incompetence
Everyone named in the Special Investigation Committee`s report is asking everyone else to accept responsibility. But nobody has the guts to take the first step.

Why the hesitance? It is quite understandable if you look at it from the viewpoint of someone who`s wrangled their way to the top in Icelandic politics and banking. They usually don`t owe their position to any outstanding personal qualities. They`ve just said yes and nodded in the right places for their party or their friends for long enough to be next in line when a position opens up.

...

[The former Minister of Commerce] is responsible for accepting a job which was grossly incompatible with his capabilities and experience. Perhaps the only thing he was qualified for was posing during photo ops like the one where he handed an award to Landsbankinn for the best annual report of 2007. And in the final hour he was working with a finance minister who is a vetenarian by trade and two laissez-faire politician lawyers who have never been outside the protective shell of their party acting as PM and Central Bank governors. The responsibility of those who put Bjorgvin there, like Ingibjorg Solrun Gisladottir and Ossur Skarphedinsson is great. Bjorgvin should claim victim status in further investigations into his negligence, it would suit his current image of a child in his fathers clothes. When the NY traffic controller brought his kids to work recently, it was him who got the heat, not the kids. They just didn`t know any better. Bjorgvin's defence? He was just there "obeying orders", playing along, participating in a game of snakes and ladders where he had not set the rules. He was just unfortunate to have rolled the dice and landed on a snake.



Keynesianism is intellectually hard, as evidenced by the inability of many trained economists to get it - Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 2nd, 2011 at 06:56:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What's interesting about this is what looks to be relatively stable polling trends:

FF: Steady collapse from 2007 election (looking past the early '08 blip), rate of decline easing up a bit in mid-2009 and basically stabilizing around 15% over the last 6 months

FG: Floating in a band between upper 20s and mid 30s almost the entire time

L: Breakthrough to 20s when the crisis hit, but beyond brief time in the 30s in mid-2010 haven't been able to break out of the mid-20s

SF: Breakthrough to the teens after crisis worsened in 2010, but not much beyond that

In short, barring a Cleggmania-like shift in the electorate as a result of the campaign, I'm not really sure what this election is going to resolve. Apparently nothing, judging by the comments, aside from the fact that everybody hates Fianna Fail right now.

Is it too much to start wondering when O'Connell Street will be turned into an Irish version of Tahrir Square?

And the world will live as one

by Montereyan (robert at calitics dot com) on Tue Feb 1st, 2011 at 11:28:51 PM EST
As you say, the most remarkable thing is the dog who didn't bark, there have been no riots in the streets.

Those hardest hit - those made unemployed, in negative equity, the young seeking their first job, and the old/sick seeing reduced social services and transfers have instead emigrated or retreated to their own private hell.  There has been a lot of belt tightening all round with previously well off professional people feeling the pinch.  The reasons there hasn't been a revolt are (as best as I can guess)

  1. A functioning democracy where most people know a politician or two and can give vent to their feelings

  2. A functioning media, where, even if the quality of analysis is poor, people can similarly give vent

  3. A great deal invested in the social order by v. high levels of home ownership - albeit many recent buyers in negative equity

  4. Unemployment alleviated by many immigrants of the Tiger years returning home - mostly eastern Europeans - and by well educated Irish people emigrating to US, EU, Australia etc.

  5. A great deal of anger at bankers, developers and politicians who indulged them, but an awareness that most have or are getting their comeuppance even if none have yet gone to jail

  6. A sense of shared guilt as many had bought into the celtic tiger and bubble ideology

  7. A genuine sense of community and that we are all in this together even if we have been badly let down by our leaders

  8. Acknowledgement that the EU has generally been good for Ireland and that we can't entirely blame the Germans for not wanting to bail everyone else out - coupled with a lack of awareness of the degree to which German success has been built on impoverishing others and that this is a class rather than a national issue.

  9. A sense that a small country like Ireland can't affords to take on the big global financial players and get away with it.

  10. A lack of understanding of what iceland did and what heavyweight global economic authorities like Stiglitz, Krugman et al are saying about how fiancial markets actually function and respond to defaults.

  11. Still relatively high levels of unemployment benefit even after cutbacks

Anyone else got any ideas?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Feb 2nd, 2011 at 06:31:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe we need 30 years of dictatorship, like in Tunisia...

Keynesianism is intellectually hard, as evidenced by the inability of many trained economists to get it - Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 2nd, 2011 at 06:35:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank Schnittger:
what heavyweight global economic authorities like Stiglitz, Krugman et al are saying
You don't get it, these people may be economic heavyweights, but they're not global authorities. They're unpersons.

Keynesianism is intellectually hard, as evidenced by the inability of many trained economists to get it - Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 2nd, 2011 at 06:49:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh I get it all right - I have spent a lifetime being right about things but at the wrong time or form the wrong place.  The powers that be always listened politely and then acted as if nothing had been said.  I lost track of the number of times my (ignored) comments were subsequently repeated by an insider to general acclaim  - when the time and circumstances were more propitious.  

In politics, timing and relationships are everything which is why I could never have been a politician.  Sometimes all you can do is sow a seed and watch others reap the benefits.  What matters is whether a view can be articulated as being within the self interest of those who can make it happen, and whether those "leaders" have enough ability and imagination to realise this.

Ireland has been very badly let down by its own leaders.  Even the Irish elite have been let down by their leaders which is why the professional classes are the most venomous in their criticism of Fianna Fail - whereas traditional Fianna Failers are a bit bemused by it all.  For them its like placing a large in a sport you don't understand has not yet (quite) sunken in.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Feb 2nd, 2011 at 07:05:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
some text got deleted out of the last paragraph.  It should have read "For them its like placing a large bet on a horse.  The stupidity of gambling in a sport you don't understand has not yet (quite) sunken in."

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Feb 2nd, 2011 at 07:11:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Update on conditions in Ireland...another letter from Ireland | Angry Bear

Instead of serving the people, as they were elected to do, these fools turn inward and bicker amongst themselves; their only public statements now are pontifications about their own virtues and to engage in cynical electioneering. Instead of working together, all of them, to save the country they destroyed, they resort to internecine feuds, screaming and yelling at one another across the floor of the Dáil chamber, tearing one another asunder, raising votes of no confidence in their own leader, voting in and out that leader, threatening to resign, and then resigning [six cabinet ministers resigned their posts last week], but not before receiving their handsome Ex Gratia lump sums and, rather than face the truth of his political demise, the leader who has lost half his cabinet persists in the delusion that he can still run the country with a mandate, he refuses to step down or call an election, but then finally he agrees to resign as the leader of his party while remaining as Taoiseach. Such grotesque shenanigans have robbed the people of any confidence they might still have had in the political process. People are pissed off, royally pissed off, not that they will do anything about it.
Our country is a joke, a farce. We're a disgrace.

Our politicians are gombeen men and women. They're still only out for number one. While the country is being flushed down into the sewer and the citizenry is drowning in tidal waves of slurry, these clueless, incompetent and shameless bastards are only worried only about whether their political party will survive, whether this or that machination is good for the party, whether the party will be strengthened or weakened going in to the next general election. It's all a load of tripe. They don't care about the people. They've grown so cynical and greedy, with their Mercs and perks, their expense accounts and their lump sums and pensions, their endless bailouts and their profligate sense of entitlement that the people don't even compute in their perfidious calculus. It's all about themselves, their self-interest, their advancement, their self-aggrandizement



"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Feb 2nd, 2011 at 07:40:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There are lots of angry rants in the media and blogosphere but very few people capable and constructive enough to do anything about it.  See Sarah Carey's withering take on some celebrity journalists who tried to organise an alternative and then copped out.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Feb 3rd, 2011 at 05:55:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Uh, Fine Gael Sarah Carey. Deeply, and unabashedly Fine Gael.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Feb 3rd, 2011 at 07:28:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think there is much value in putting people down just because they happen to be members of a political party you disapprove of.  At least they are engaged in politics and that is what any functioning democracy needs.  Her point - which I would agree with - is that it is very easy for "intellectuals" like Dunphy or O'Toole to put down all politicians en masse - and much more difficult to actually do the work required to replace them.

Part of the reason the calibre of politicians in Ireland is so low is because the profession and the activity itself is held in such low esteem.  It's very easy to ridicule gombeen politicians but that then places an onus on you to improve the calibre of those who represent us.

The alternative to having a functioning democracy is what we are seeing in Egypt - and may see here if the structures and personnel in politics here are also not improved.

The George Lee syndrome - it is very easy to criticise and much harder to do - is rife in Ireland, and the people involved with democracy Now are wide open to that criticism. We don't need celbrity politicians, but why do people of real ability not come forward?

The answer to that is complex, I know, but part of the process of changing that is generating a more widespread recognition of the very real skills and abilities required to run a modern state competently - and using that as a framework to appraise politicians by.

I don't have much time for rants about self-interested and corrupt politicians - they are usually vented by those with even less integrity, altruism and ability. The reality is that the skill set and endurance required to get elected, get promoted to ministerial ranks, do a competent job of running a Dept., and providing thought leadership to a country is so challenging that almost none who take on that challenge are up to it.  Time for those who claim greater abilities to shut up and prove they can do the job better.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Feb 3rd, 2011 at 07:59:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We have a similar problem in the UK. But people are trained to believe that politics is boring and silly, and as long as they do that voting thing every few years - if they can be bothered - they've done their bit.

There's no tradition of participation for most people. Participation is very much class dependent. The higher up the totem pole you go, the more likely you are to contact your MP/MEP/Council to complain and make your feelings known.

If we wanted a real democracy we'd be training people to get involved in the same way we (try to) train them to read and write.

But that would upset the current cosy non-democratic monopoly, so participation is discouraged. Active protest is discouraged even more, with pepper spray and infiltration.

And most people have no chance of getting elected, no matter how much time and effort they put into it. If you're not already a party insider, a celebrity, or someone known for pushing a single local issue - which doesn't happen much - you literally have no prospects at all.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Feb 3rd, 2011 at 08:10:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think there are at least three related problems:

  1. The skill set required to be come "known" - i.e. achieve widespread personal brand recognition - is rare, and not helped by the fact that our "celebrity culture" celebrates the inane

  2. The skill set to do good policy research, analysis and formulation is are - and quite different to 1. above.

  3. The skill set to be good at relationship building, negotiation and conflict resolution - which are at the heart of good political practice - is rare, and again, quite different to 1. and 2. above.

Individuals combining all three are almost unique, and even though you can build a team combining those talents, our individualistic political culture doesn't encourage that.

I am convinced that much dismissive commentary direct at politics and politicians is motivated by a latent authoritarianism.  "Of course I know what's right and things would work much better if people simply did what I told them too!  Unfortunately polities are made up of many legitimate and competing interests and reconciling these within a coherent policy and organisational framework is exceptionally hard and skilled work.

It would help if we at least gave recognition to the skills required - so that our political culture and structures might be better geared to developing them.

The starting point has to be in recognising that being an effective political leader is about as difficult a job as there is - far more difficult than being a "rocket scientist" which actually requires quite a limited and specialised skill set by comparison.

That is why I have so little patience with political rants decrying all politicians/politics or ad hominem attacks on people who have at least had the courage to make an effort...

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Feb 3rd, 2011 at 08:32:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You've completely neglected the skills required to prosper within the political party system. You don't get elected in Ireland by being "known", you get elected in Ireland by being selected by a local party organisation, in the main.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Feb 3rd, 2011 at 08:51:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And these local party organisations have withered to the point where they are populated by small numbers of old chaws and young opportunists or idealists. If you clean up well, wear a suit, speak coherently, plausibly claim some professional expertise, get involved with local issues and concerns, build relationships etc., you shouldn't have too much difficulty getting a nomination - unless you upset the local big wigs in the process - in which case Independents are polling at 15% and could get 20 seats.  So what's the problem?  

I think the three skill sets I listed above cover most of what is required reasonably well, but if you want to define other skill sets, be my guest. At least we are starting to address the problem.  Why is it that political commentators who espouse community activism, local democracy, and direction action then get all sniffy and superior about actually getting their hands dirty and doing the work necessary to get known in their communities as someone who at least cares or is prepared to work on other people's behalf?

Is actually meeting with people and seeking to address their concerns and raise their awareness beneath them?  Or is it they don't have the skill-set or commitment required?  (From my point of view being a politician is a dogs life - you are expected to be available, at meetings, or at community events 24/7 - and then get lectured for your pains by an intelligentsia who don't even know their neighbours or have the commitment to engage with the community at large).

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Feb 3rd, 2011 at 09:20:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank Schnittger:
(From my point of view being a politician is a dogs life - you are expected to be available, at meetings, or at community events 24/7 - and then get lectured for your pains by an intelligentsia who don't even know their neighbours or have the commitment to engage with the community at large).
Didn't you just answer your own rhetorical questions about why competent people don't go into politics?

If it's such a dog's life, why do people do it who're not either narcissistic or power-hungry?

Keynesianism is intellectually hard, as evidenced by the inability of many trained economists to get it - Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 3rd, 2011 at 09:39:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am full of admiration for those who do have the stamina and commitment to do the job and who don't get recognition for what skills they do have and work they do do.  That is why I am less patient with those who claim much greater knowledge and ability but who aren't prepared to do the work or put themselves (and their egos) on the hazard of standing for election.

Frankly, I wish I did have the skills (and the youth) required and would have loved to have had the opportunity to have given it a go. But I don't and I didn't and am therefore dependent on others doing the job better and on the electorate for making more discerning and enlightened decisions.  My role is therefore limited to challenging the usual rants about - "they're all the same, corrupt, self-interested, narcissistic, egotistic etc." and trying to encourage more informed debate and better candidates to come forward.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Feb 3rd, 2011 at 09:53:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru:
If it's such a dog's life, why do people do it who're not either narcissistic or power-hungry?

Or idealistic, or nuts.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!

by A swedish kind of death on Thu Feb 3rd, 2011 at 04:04:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank Schnittger:
I am convinced that much dismissive commentary direct at politics and politicians is motivated by a latent authoritarianism.  "Of course I know what's right and things would work much better if people simply did what I told them too!
There is another possibility, which is technocratic bias. "There are people who know what they're doing and it would be better if politicians simply followed their advice". Which is a recipe for disaster in some situations, too, because the technocrats are liable to bee too narrowly focused and not see the ramifications outside their field.

Keynesianism is intellectually hard, as evidenced by the inability of many trained economists to get it - Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 3rd, 2011 at 09:20:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In principle, the politicians should be controlling and directing the technocrats.

Instead they pretend they are the technocrats. Mayhem follows.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Feb 3rd, 2011 at 09:39:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The role of technocrats gets more and more important the more complex and technical the processes of Government become.  However even decisions which are "technically correct" still have to be "sold" to those who must implement or accept being effected by them and that "selling process" is as amenable to "technocratic" analysis and management as any other.  Neither is it less moral to seek to achieve consensus on issues if you are convinced that the "technocratically derived" solution is the right one.

People speak pejoratively of spin doctors, political operatives like Karl Rove, marketeers etc. as corrupt or manipulative when, like any other technocratic or scientific sphere, these tools and functions can be used for good or ill.  I don't have a problem with people who don't want to do that kind of work or feel that is not their bag.  My problem is when those skills and roles are derisively dismissed by the very people who then complain about their powerlessness.

If you want to achieve power you have to study how it works and master the skills required.  If you think power is of itself innately evil you are going to have a problem living in any complex society where functions are differentiated and decision making is structured. The left is losing because too few are bothered to master the skills required.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Feb 3rd, 2011 at 09:40:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't want to achieve power. Or, rather, thinking I understand how it works and the skills required I have better things to do with my life than acquire those skills in the off chance I might one day achieve power. Call me a cynic.

Keynesianism is intellectually hard, as evidenced by the inability of many trained economists to get it - Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 3rd, 2011 at 09:47:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
When I say achieve power, I don't necessarily mean get appointed to a senior position or elected to high office.  I mean achieving change in the real world in line with your beliefs and understanding of what is currently working well or badly by influencing others.

What's the point of learning, arguing, and engaging if you are not trying to make the world a better place?  And if you can't be bothered to try to make the world a better place, why criticise those who do make the effort?  Or is it that you are morally superior and that all those who do make the effort are by definition naive, corrupt, power hungry or self-serving?

To amplify earlier points - many criticisms of politics or politicians, especially the blanket or dismissive ones are based on:

  1. Latent authoritarianism
  2. Technocratic bias
  3. Presumed moral superiority
  4. Learned ignorance


Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Feb 3rd, 2011 at 10:10:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Unfortunately polities are made up of many legitimate and competing interests and reconciling these within a coherent policy and organisational framework is exceptionally hard and skilled work.

Which is why it's a shame so few politicians seem to be doing it.

Your argument would be more persuasive if there was evidence that this is what politicians - British, Irish, USian, whatever - actually do.

But in practice politics has become the theory and practice of enforcing the wishes of a tiny minority on a vast majority, to their personal cost.

And that's a very literal cost, not a metaphorical one.

If the intelligentsia are cynical about this, they're right to be so. In terms of practical governance, it's literally likely that you could pick a few hundred random people by ballot and get a better government than the one Ireland has had for the last five or ten years.

Likewise in the UK. Because random people would be more representative, and less immediately bought by special interests.

It's true that in an ideal world politics would be about skilfully reconciling conflicting interests - but there really isn't so much of that happening anywhere at the moment.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Feb 3rd, 2011 at 10:21:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
In terms of practical governance, it's literally likely that you could pick a few hundred random people by ballot and get a better government than the one Ireland has had for the last five or ten years.
It's possible that it has always been:

Sortition - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In Athens, "democracy" (literally meaning rule by the people) was in opposition to those supporting oligarchy (rule by a few). Athenian democracy was characterised by being run by the "many" (the ordinary people) who were allotted to the committees which ran government. Thucydides has Pericles make this point in his Funeral Oration: "It is administered by the many instead of the few; that is why it is called a democracy."[3]}}

The Athenians believed sortition to be more democratic than elections[1] and used complex procedures with purpose-built allotment machines (kleroteria) to avoid the corrupt practices used by oligarchs to buy their way into office. According to the author Mogens Herman Hansen the citizen's court was superior to the assembly because the allotted members swore an oath which ordinary citizens in the assembly did not and therefore the court could annul the decisions of the assembly. Both Aristotle[1] and Herodotus (one of the earliest writers on democracy) emphasize selection by lot as a test of democracy:

The rule of the people has the fairest name of all, equality (isonomia), and does none of the things that a monarch does. The lot determines offices, power is held accountable, and deliberation is conducted in public.[4]


Keynesianism is intellectually hard, as evidenced by the inability of many trained economists to get it - Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 3rd, 2011 at 10:33:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru:
It's possible that it has always been:

Athens and the Greek city states were a bit of an exception in the ancient world dominated by tyrants and its population was probably measured in a few thousand (plus women, children and slaves who didn't count).  What works in a small scale relatively homogeneous community doesn't always work so well in large scale complex polities.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Feb 3rd, 2011 at 11:11:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think it would work just fine. After all, we have universal education. The argument that elections favoured oligarchies is still true.

Keynesianism is intellectually hard, as evidenced by the inability of many trained economists to get it - Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 3rd, 2011 at 11:25:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
want to add one thing.

4.  The ability to find and hire a Chief of Staff who will go to the wall for him/her.  The CoS is the person to hire and manage the other staff members who are needed because one person cannot "Do It All."  

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Fri Feb 4th, 2011 at 11:34:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Absolutely. "No one is perfect but a team can be" in the sense that all the required key skills can be structured into a team even when some are absent in the team leader.

There is another, psychological, dimension to the COS role.  Unavoidably a leader who ends up in a difficult situation where he will have to upset key interest groups/block of voters - will be tarnished by association with those decisions and lose support as a result - even if , demonstrably, they were for the common good or the greatest good for the greatest number.

Sometimes staff members end up taking the hit for the Dear leader and take responsibility for "mistakes" and resign thus helping to insulate the Leaders position.  Rahm Emannuel probably took a lot of progressive ire at Obama with him when he left.

or perhaps not!

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Feb 5th, 2011 at 07:55:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
There's no tradition of participation for most people. Participation is very much class dependent. The higher up the totem pole you go, the more likely you are to contact your MP/MEP/Council to complain and make your feelings known.
That's not a tradition of participation, that's a feeling of entitlement.

Keynesianism is intellectually hard, as evidenced by the inability of many trained economists to get it - Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 3rd, 2011 at 08:48:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think there's anything wrong with people feeling entitled to participate - in fact I think it's a good thing.

It's only a problem when some people feel they have an exclusive right to participate, while deliberately excluding others.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Feb 3rd, 2011 at 10:09:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, I'm just pointing out her affiliation and her deep entanglement in the existing  political system.  Of course she's contemptuous of outsiders.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Feb 3rd, 2011 at 08:27:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
why do people of real ability not come forward?

Because real ability and the skills required to get elected are almost entirely mutually exclusive.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Feb 3rd, 2011 at 08:29:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank Schnittger:
Part of the reason the calibre of politicians in Ireland is so low is because the profession and the activity itself is held in such low esteem.  It's very easy to ridicule gombeen politicians but that then places an onus on you to improve the calibre of those who represent us.
That's like telling an Egyptian if they disapprove of the police they should enlist.

Keynesianism is intellectually hard, as evidenced by the inability of many trained economists to get it - Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 3rd, 2011 at 08:30:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru:
That's like telling an Egyptian if they disapprove of the police they should enlist.

No. It's like telling an Egyptian that they are right to fight for a democracy in which they can elect and hold accountable a Government responsible for providing an effective and fair policing service.  Is suspect many Egyptians would give their right arm for the democratic rights and opportunities we take for granted, don't appreciate, and don't use very well.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Feb 3rd, 2011 at 08:41:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We can elect and hold accountable but the people who stand for election are mostly venal idiots because the business of politics is venal and idiotic.

We're confusing civil service with politics. The civil service requires a modicum of competence, and politics is a popularity contest.

Keynesianism is intellectually hard, as evidenced by the inability of many trained economists to get it - Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 3rd, 2011 at 08:55:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Politics is venal and idiotic because the entire business is a lie - it claims to be about fairness, representation, and other fluffy and inspiring words, when the reality is that it's about self-serving greed, arrogance, paranoia, and narcissism.

There are occasional exceptions to this, but they're rare, and the feedback loops built into our 'democracies' do an excellent job of weeding them out.

Politicians can get away with this because:

  1. There are no objective measures of good government. In reality it wouldn't be hard to assess governments on basics like social mobility, GINI, disposable income, and so on. But this would be like dragging a vampire into daylight.

  2. Without objective measures, governments can pretend that concepts like "growth" and "inflation" should be key policy drivers, when in fact they should never be more than secondary derived outcomes.

  3. Decisions are made because of tribal and personal affiliation, and not because of objective policy.

So you have national governments bumping into each other in the dark, occasionally getting into fights where they can't even see what they're doing, driven by a vague feeling of being scared of the night but being even more terrified of daylight.

No wonder it's a mess.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Feb 3rd, 2011 at 10:31:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank Schnittger:
We don't need celbrity politicians, but why do people of real ability not come forward?
Because politics is a popularity contest.

Keynesianism is intellectually hard, as evidenced by the inability of many trained economists to get it - Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 3rd, 2011 at 08:47:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru:
Because politics is a popularity contest

Obviously, in the sense that those who get most votes, win. But if we're so smart we should be able to analyse why people vote the way they do, and influence those decisions.  We are continually being told by intellectuals that people vote against their own self-interest through ignorance or false consciousness.  So why don't we educate, enlighten, or conscientise them?

For instance - as you and others have pointed out - the crisis of globalism and financialisation and banking gone mad has led to the further rise of the very neo-liberal parties and policies which promoted those disasters.  So why is this?  Are leftwingers really so stupid that they cannot win an election/argument/popularity contest when it is so blatantly obvious that the neo-liberal establishment has failed?

OK ok, its all the fault of the elite dominated media and corrupt political establishment...thats an out which relieves us of all responsibility to do anything.  How very convenient.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Feb 3rd, 2011 at 09:00:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank Schnittger:
But if we're so smart we should be able to analyse why people vote the way they do, and influence those decisions.
I had no idea we should take Karl Rove as our role model.

It is not a given that I'm smart enought to become an expert in marketing, propaganda and mass psychology but even if I were I have zero interest in consciously manipulating people for personal gain. I have different natural inclinations.

So, having surveyed the field to the best of my ability I'm quite ready to concede defeat and yield the political arena to the unethical. Sue me.

Keynesianism is intellectually hard, as evidenced by the inability of many trained economists to get it - Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 3rd, 2011 at 09:11:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank Schnittger:
Because politics is a popularity contest
Obviously, in the sense that those who get most votes, win.
I mean, more than in that obvious sense.

People vote for tribal allegiances, entrenched social biases, candidate charisma, and so on.

I know I do - you couldn't get me to vote for the PP, for sociological reasons. The most I'll do is abstain from voting against them.

Keynesianism is intellectually hard, as evidenced by the inability of many trained economists to get it - Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 3rd, 2011 at 09:15:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank Schnittger:
For instance - as you and others have pointed out - the crisis of globalism and financialisation and banking gone mad has led to the further rise of the very neo-liberal parties and policies which promoted those disasters.  So why is this?  Are leftwingers really so stupid that they cannot win an election/argument/popularity contest when it is so blatantly obvious that the neo-liberal establishment has failed?
If by "leftwingers" you're referring to the Social Democrats, then they were (are!) fully on-board with neoliberal policy and had weeded out from their ranks anyone who could articulate an alternative policy position. Germany's Oskar Lafontaine is an example. Now, you're not really claiming Die Linke should have been able to win the last federal election in Germany, now are you? Not any more than Sinn Féin should be able to win in Ireland this month.

It's not that the neoliberal establishment has failed (as if there were a non-neoliberal faction within the establishment). It is that the establishment is neoliberal so short of an effective revolution replacing the establishment (you know how likely that is, and on what time scales) politics is currently just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. There might as well be no alternative. Which is probably why crisis like the present one tend to take 10 years to run their course. You need 3 election cycles and full generational renewal for a change in the character of the establishment, and that's in a crisis - when you don't have a crisis, gradual change probably takes twice as long.

Keynesianism is intellectually hard, as evidenced by the inability of many trained economists to get it - Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 3rd, 2011 at 09:32:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I never said it was easy.  In fact, it is because it is so hard that we need to learn and value the skills involved more.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Feb 3rd, 2011 at 10:14:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank:
Oh I get it all right - I have spent a lifetime being right about things but at the wrong time or form the wrong place....I lost track of the number of times my (ignored) comments were subsequently repeated by an insider to general acclaim  - when the time and circumstances were more propitious.

Know the feeling. I have had my words thrown back at me. When the California Legislature was considering a particularly pernicious approach to earthquake safety for public schools, an area where I had done some agitation, analysis and presentation before the LAUSD Board, I told the good ladies of the San Fernando Valley Parent Teacher Association that the stupidity appeared to be inevitable, as it looked like the bribes had been paid. I later heard back from one of them that a legislative aid told them "The bribes have been paid." I took this as a STFU comment. Everything we had recommended got adopted AFTER the Northridge earthquake -- about four years later.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Feb 2nd, 2011 at 10:58:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
FG poll blow but Kenny on course for Taoiseach - National News, Frontpage - Independent.ie
But Sinn Fein's rise in support continues, with the party now up another three points to 16pc.

Paul Moran: Poll could end up more about style than substance - Analysis, Opinion - Independent.ie

Sinn Fein, a potential threat to Labour on the left, will also be pleased with these results, with 13pc claiming they will vote for it.

The Independent contradicts itself by claiming 16% for Sinn Fein on the front page, and 13% in a more detailed analysis by Paul Moran - a Research Project Manager with Millward Brown Lansdowne.  I have used the 13% figure in the chart and commentary above.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Feb 2nd, 2011 at 09:38:37 AM EST
Election Betting - Press Releases
A key point from this poll is that, with just over three weeks until polling day, there are still 20% of likely voters who remain undecided in how they will vote, and as such there is still all to play for.

An analysis of those undecided voters suggest that a large majority were previous Fianna Fail voters, and if we implement our Spiral of Silence analysis, this suggest that some may revert to Fianna Fail and take their share to 20%.

When we also look at loyalty of vote it is apparent that Fianna Fail have improved the loyalty of voters, with 11% now saying they will definitely vote for the party and a further 9% that they are likely to. However, any gains they make will have a limit, as 56% still state that they definitely won't vote for the party.

For Fine Gael this same analysis of possible vote behaviour suggest that the party could take 40% of the vote if they have a really good campaign, with 20% definite to vote for them and a further 22% likely to.

Labour sees their loyalty decline slightly, but they have 12% definite to vote for the party and 20% likely to. Again evidence that there is all to play for still between themselves and Fine Gael to secure these likely voters.



Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Feb 2nd, 2011 at 11:43:48 AM EST
Election Betting - Press Releases
Next Government (After Election)
1/20     FG/Lab
16/1     FF/Lab
16/1     FG/FF
16/1     FF/FG/Lab
16/1     FG Minority Government
22/1     FG Majority Government
33/1     Technocratic Government
40/1     Lab/SF/Green
40/1     FG/Lab/Green
50/1     FF/Green/SF
50/1     FG/Lab/SF
50/1     FF/SF
50/1     Lab/SF
50/1     FF Minority Government
55/1     Labour Minority
66/1     FG/Green    

16/1 seems generous odds for a FG minority Government

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Feb 2nd, 2011 at 11:46:04 AM EST
Fine Gael on course to lead next government - poll - The Irish Times - Wed, Feb 02, 2011
Satisfaction with the way the Government is doing its job has dropped to a remarkably low 4 per cent (down one point) while the number expressing dissatisfaction is running at 95 per cent (up seven points).

Satisfaction with outgoing Taoiseach Brian Cowen is just 8 per cent (down six points). These are the lowest ratings achieved by a government or taoiseach since MRBI began polling for The Irish Times  in the autumn of 1982 and the same is true of support for Fianna Fáil.

Enda Kenny's satisfaction rating has risen to 30 per cent (up seven points); Micheal Martin is on 25 per cent; Eamon Gilmore is on 44 per cent (no change); John Gormley, 15 per cent (up two points); and Gerry Adams, 27 per cent (down one).

Uniquely, this poll shows Kenny as being more popular than Martin.  Otherwise the results are in line with genera trends - see update 3 at top of diary above.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Feb 2nd, 2011 at 06:51:28 PM EST
When Irish Eyes Are Crying | Business | Vanity Fair
When I flew to Dublin in early November, the Irish government was busy helping the Irish people come to terms with their loss. It had been two years since a handful of Irish politicians and bankers decided to guarantee all the debts of the country's biggest banks, but the people were only now getting their minds around what that meant for them. The numbers were breathtaking. A single bank, Anglo Irish, which, two years before, the Irish government had claimed was merely suffering from a "liquidity problem," faced losses of up to 34 billion euros. To get some sense of how "34 billion euros" sounds to Irish ears, an American thinking in dollars needs to multiply it by roughly one hundred: $3.4 trillion. And that was for a single bank. As the sum total of loans made by Anglo Irish, most of it to Irish property developers, was only 72 billion euros, the bank had lost nearly half of every dollar it invested.


Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Feb 3rd, 2011 at 08:19:35 PM EST
Another new poll in today's Sunday Business post confirms previous trends. Still no sign of an FF recovery...Poll added to graphic at top of Diary.  The numbers are Fianna Fail 17%, Fine Gael 35%, Labour 22%, Green Party 2%, Sinn Fein 13%, Others 11%

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Feb 6th, 2011 at 09:53:54 AM EST
With those numbers the two paths to a majority government are:

  1.  Fine Gael + Fianna Fail

  2.  Fine Gael + Labour

Can the FG and Labour form a government?

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot
by ATinNM on Sun Feb 6th, 2011 at 01:18:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
See my response on another blog you might find interesting

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Feb 6th, 2011 at 01:24:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks


Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot
by ATinNM on Sun Feb 6th, 2011 at 03:13:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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