Welcome to the new version of European Tribune. It's just a new layout, so everything should work as before - please report bugs here.

Merkel and Barroso promote compliant Irish Government (Updated)

by Frank Schnittger Wed Feb 16th, 2011 at 08:51:51 AM EST

In the dim and distant past I studied a sociologist called Andre Gunder Frank who developed a version of dependency theory whereby international capitalism promoted local comprador bourgeoisie elites to do their dirty work in ruling third world dependent countries.  He should know.  He worked with Salvador Allende in Chile.

The primary function of these local elites was to make the particular country in question safe for international monopoly capitalism by controlling the political system, the local media, and, if necessary, the local military. Tax incentives for business, low corporate taxes, "free" trade policies, a stable "investment climate" and light touch regulation of business were the key things the comprador bourgeoisie were required to deliver.  In return they got rising property values, good jobs in multinational firms, knock on opportunities for local service companies, and a small share of the profits through (low) local taxation.

I am reminded of their characteristics by the rise of Enda Kenny as the almost certain next Taoiseach of Ireland, quite possibly as the leader of a single party Fine Gael Government. Kenny has just had another photo op meeting with a friendly fellow EPP European leader, Angela Merkel, in a bid to look "Prime Ministerial" ahead of the second Party Leaders televised debate this evening.

Promoted by Colman: I'm too depressed by the whole thing to write about it.


Kenny missed the first televised TV debate between new Fianna Fail leader, Michael Martin, and Labour Leader Eamon Gilmore last week claiming the moderator, Vincent Browne, had been offensive to him in the past.  It didn't do his party any harm in the opinion polls however, with Fine Gael rising to 38% and now looking like being able to form a Government with or without Labour support after the election.


Graph of opinion poll results (from three separate pollsters) for party support since the 2007 general election.

Fine Gael have risen steadily in the polls especially since a failed leadership heave against Enda Kenny in June 2010. Labour's decline since then almost exactly mirrors Fine Gael's rise. Fianna Fail are flat-lining in the mid-teens since their precipitous decline from a high of 47% as recently as June 2008. Labour, Sinn Fein and Independents have gained somewhat from this decline, but the main beneficiary has been Fine Gael.

Most people would interpret this as simply one conservative party gaining at the expense of another. But there are significant differences between Fianna Fail and Fine Gael. Fianna Fail arose out of the anti-Treaty side in the 1922 civil war and opposed the partition of Ireland. As such they have strong radical nationalist roots and were always regarded with some disdain by the pro-Treaty, solid, old money, law and order, professional, bourgeoisie of Fine Gael who regarded them as upstart cowboy developers and get rich quick merchants. Fianna Fail's "crony capitalism" with their developer and banker friends has, of course, now been thoroughly discredited, but it did retain some semblance of nationalism despite the dominance of neo-liberalism since Charlie McCreevy's time as Finance Minister.

Fine Gael's roots in the respectable business and professional classes have become closely aligned with the success of the multi-national sector in the Irish economy and the EU political project. As such - despite protestations to the contrary - it is unlikely it would have pursued a significantly different policy regarding the Bank Guarantee and ECB/IMF deal had it been in Government at the time. Perhaps Fine Gael would have been less credulous in its dealing with the banks, because it wasn't their cronies who were busy running the banks into the ground, and their roots would have been in the more traditional and prudent forms of banking extant when they were last in power. One of their new candidates in Dublin South - Peter Mathews - is an ex-banker who is arguing the inevitability of default. It will be interesting to see whether he gets a ministerial job. I somehow doubt it!

So now Fine Gael is leveraging its EPP friends in Europe to gain the aura of a party who can negotiate effectively on Ireland's behalf - thus undermining Fianna Fail's claim that the ECB/IMF deal was the best deal possible and that it is largely non-renegotiable. No doubt Merkel, Barroso et all will require a quid pro uo in the form of a cooperative attitude towards Merkel's ideas for new fiscal Governance within the Eurozone. They will be pushing an open door because Fine Gael have seized the opportunity of Ireland's fiscal crisis to propose swinging cuts in Ireland's public service - a constituency always closer to the heart of Fianna Fail and Labour.

In The Irish General Election (Update 3) I made the following prediction based on opinion polls up to Feb. 2nd.

I wouldn't change much in the prediction based on the opinion polls since then except that if current trends continue, Fine Gael is likely to top 70 seats which makes a Minority Fine Gael Government with Fianna Fail abstention and/or independent support a distinct possibility and could make Labour dispensable as a coalition partner.

In a strange way I would almost prefer a Fine Gael Government to a Fine Gael Labour coalition because it is likely to be short lived - with Fine Gael bearing the full brunt of the unpopularity of continuing austerity policies - and offers Labour the opportunity of leading the opposition and consolidating its position as the second largest party at the expense of Fianna Fail. Otherwise Labour will once again implode as it's base rebels against the austerity policies a Fine Gael led Government will insist on.

Key to this scenario is that Labour wins more seats than Fianna Fail - not a foregone conclusion, as Fianna Fails has many more established candidates and many of those telling pollsters they will vote Independent may be "shy Fianna Fail" voters who will support their local established Fianna Fail candidate on a personal rather than party basis. The election outcome is currently on a knife edge and the electorate is still very volatile with c. 17% "don't knows", and turnout on the day also likely to influence the outcome. The second televised debate involving the five main party leaders may have some impact, although Kenny's reputation as a debater is so poor it will not be hard for him to surprise on the upside.

That he is virtually the sole candidate for Taoiseach is a sad indictment of the Irish body politic because even most Fine Gaelers don't think particularly highly of him. He has ridden the wave of anti-Fianna Fail revulsion without providing any significant policy alternative. He has consistently trailed Michel Martin, Eamon Gilmore and even Gerry Adams in "satisfaction with party leaders" polls, and should be a soft touch for Merkel, Sarkozy and Barroso to stitch up with a cosmetic renegotiation of the ECB/IMF deal.

In the words of Andre Gunder Frank, the comprador bourgeoisie elite will be well and truly in place.

Update [2011-2-16 6:50:10 by Frank Schnittger]: Another new poll by Millward Brown out today (and added to graphic above) confirms previous poll trends but shows Fine Gael up 8 points since the last Millward Brown poll on the 1st. February. Labour is marginally up but Fianna Fail is down to a record low despite Michael Martin being acknowledged in the media as the "winner" of the first TV debate. The poll was taken just before the second TV debate which the MSM have called a draw and therefore a success for Fine Gael Leader, Enda Kenny, as they regard him as the weakest debater.[END UPDATE]

Display:
Pressed post by mistake.  This is a diary in preparation and not yet ready for posting!  I will keep adding to it to complete the argument - so please come back again later to comment!

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Feb 14th, 2011 at 08:50:49 AM EST
My laptop keeps falling over.  Power supply problems (I think).  I'm not sure I'm going to be able to complete this diary any time soon.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Feb 14th, 2011 at 09:34:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
OK - back in action - diary complete (for now!)

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Feb 14th, 2011 at 11:31:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think the saddest thing for the people of Ireland - and perhaps the rest of us is that it seems no party is articulating an alternative to Austerity, or even a resistance to the logic of Austerity.

Gunder Frank's thesis seems ever more important to me as we more and more become a world where wealth is concentrated in multinational corporations and the small class of people that are attached to them. (Some in charge, some servants.)

In the past, there were countries with a middle class not directly at the mercy of the multinationals, but it looks like very few countries will maintain that status, we're heading for 3rd world inequality levels everywhere...

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Wed Feb 16th, 2011 at 09:35:41 AM EST
Labour is trying, but their suggestions aren't serious.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Feb 16th, 2011 at 10:04:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
last night i saw on current tv a story about an american IT pro whose job had been outsourced to india, so he decided to go to bangalore to see the other side of the story.
after staying there a month with an indian family, whose man was manager of a call centre there. the american even worked a while there to see what it was like.
he made a reflection at the end of the doc, in which he said his losing his job in the US probably translated to supporting 16 indians, and he concluded it was worthwhile...

he was an unusually aware person, it's not a line of logic that would probably win many votes stateside.

whouldathunkit? the international corporation as global social wealth distributor.

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

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Feb 16th, 2011 at 12:52:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Globalisation does have its benefits for third world countries like India, but those benefits are very unequally distributed - and could thus make the poor feel even poorer relative to the nouveau riche in their midst (or more likely up on the hill).

The problem is partly that in a world with an almost unlimited supply of labour - the price of that labour cannot but fall - except for those in direct and indirect receipt of rental income from capital.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Feb 16th, 2011 at 01:48:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Fine Gael's proposals to gut the public sector more than ever underline the degree to which they are doing the bidding of the "private sector" increasingly dominated by multinational firms - that and the old money professions of Law, Accountancy and Medicine - professions which are better paid in Ireland than almost anywhere else and which have yet to feel the full brunt of the current recession.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Feb 16th, 2011 at 02:11:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, my only consolation is that an accountant helps pay the bills here. We'll probably personally do ok from an FG government, or better than others, anyhow.  And it won't be our fault.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Feb 16th, 2011 at 03:55:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Some of my best friends and relations are accountants and doctors (I draw the line at lawyers)...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Feb 16th, 2011 at 04:08:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
O'Keefe warns of 'military coup' - The Irish Times - Wed, Feb 16, 2011
While the winds of change continue to blow furiously across the Arab world, outgoing Cork TD Ned O'Keeffe has warned that Ireland might be next.

Mr O'Keeffe (whose son Kevin is standing for Fianna Fail in the Cork East constituency) has warned of the very real possibility of a military coup.

According to a report published in today's Evening Echo , Mr O'Keeffe said "The situation has become so bad that an Army coup is a real possibility."

Blaming Taoiseach Brian Cowen and Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan for hastening the possibility of a military takeover, Mr O'Keeffe issued the following warning:

"Our political system is going to fail further. The two Brians have made a right mess of the country and I see the real possibility of an Army coup.

He must be suffering from political senility if he thinks the army would want to take over governing Ireland at the moment...

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Feb 16th, 2011 at 04:15:27 PM EST
No, no, no, Frank. A "military coup" is when the military refuses to use tanks to crush an IMF riot.

Obviously, that danger is present as long as the Fianna Fail or Fine Gael are in government - because they might be stupid enough to both provoke an IMF riot and order it crushed.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Feb 17th, 2011 at 12:01:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
See my Barroso to plebes: nice indebted democracy you have there... on June 17th, 2010.
"I had a discussion with Barroso last Friday about what can be done for Greece, Spain, Portugal and the rest and his message was blunt: 'Look, if they do not carry out these austerity packages, these countries could virtually disappear in the way that we know them as democracies. They've got no choice, this is it'."
Barroso is EPP, too.

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 17th, 2011 at 02:49:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What military is he talking about? Did we acquire one with some political standing when I wasn't looking?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Feb 17th, 2011 at 02:21:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
   riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodious vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaďs Nin
by Crazy Horse on Wed Feb 16th, 2011 at 05:21:48 PM EST
I and Finnegan have not been on speaking terms for many years and I would not rejoyce at a recapitulation of the years of emigration and colonialism that history has left us.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Feb 16th, 2011 at 05:44:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodious vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle Environs.

(new critical edition)

by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Thu Feb 17th, 2011 at 01:25:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Riverdance, sex on the beach, waste sloshing around Dublin Bay, what goes around, comes around...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Feb 17th, 2011 at 05:27:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
When you ask a random sample of 1000 voters do they support the castration of rapists you would probably get at least 5% support.  But Zero%, Nada, zilch, 0% support the re-election of the current Government. Is that a record?

Voters favour Fine Gael-led coalition with Labour Party - Opinion Polls, Elections - Independent.ie

A Fine Gael-led coalition with Labour is the preferred government of 20pc of voters.

However, the next best option is a Fine Gael overall majority on 17pc.

Fine Gael are currently on 38pc in the latest opinion poll, putting the party within shooting distance of entering government alone.

A Labour-led coalition with Fine Gael comes in third on 13pc, which is a less than ringing endorsement of the party's 'Gilmore for Taoiseach' mantra.

And a coalition between Labour, Sinn Fein and others gets even less support, just 8pc.

The prospect of a Labour overall majority, which is not possible as the party is not running enough candidates, receives the support of 7pc of respondents.

Expectation

A Fianna Fail overall majority is the preferred option of 5pc of voters -- a reflection of the party's standing with the public and the low expectation for the party in next week's general election.

A coalition of Fine Gael, Labour, Greens and Independents gets the endorsement of just 4pc of respondents.

A Fianna Fail coalition with Labour is also immensely unpopular with just 3pc support. But a coalition of Fine Gael, Labour and the Greens is on 2pc.

Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein coming to power gets just 2pc support.

A return of the previous coalition government of Fianna Fail and the Green Party gets no support at all



Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Feb 17th, 2011 at 06:00:16 AM EST
The worst mistake Labour can make is tell themselves joining a coalition with Fine Gael would be good because they can moderate the worst excesses of the austerity policy. If you want to put checks on government policy, make FG form a minority government and control them from the parliament.

The Lib Dems tell themselves they're moderating the Tory disaster but they've destroyed themselves as a party in the process.

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 17th, 2011 at 06:05:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This has happened to Labour several times in the past which is why they have always reverted back to being a 10% party.  When you offer them the perks of office they have always succumbed.  However this time they could actually become the leading party in opposition and possibly consign Fianna Fail to permanent marginal status.  You would think that would be a sufficient incentive to take a longer view, as you suggest.  However political careers are short and getting shorter, and what's good for Labour and the country isn't necessarily what's good for a few Labour leaders in line for Government jobs.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Feb 17th, 2011 at 06:25:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Voters want bailout renegotiated - Opinion Polls, Elections - Independent.ie
An overwhelming 83pc of those surveyed are in favour of a renegotiation of the bailout. Just 11pc said the government should leave the bailout -- with its average 5.8pc interest rate -- as it currently stands.

But it appears the electorate does not have much confidence in the ability of the next government to deliver improved terms for Ireland, with just 38pc saying such an outcome was likely.



Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Feb 17th, 2011 at 06:34:49 AM EST
A significant meme, especially within FG, has been the promotion of a technocratic over a political agenda, including proposals to give key government departments to those with 'relevant expertise'.  This is of a piece with the establishment of a local comprador elite to implement EU policy.

However, I can't see how any of this is going to stave off the next round of European bank / sovereign insolvencies; so whoever is elected in our little spasm of token representative democracy will have a tiger by the tail.

I fantasize that this might be a FG/FF coalition, possibly finishing both the civil war parties off in one go.

by Pope Epopt on Thu Feb 17th, 2011 at 08:39:59 AM EST
Pope Epopt:
the promotion of a technocratic over a political agenda
Everything is political. Neoclassical economics claims to be technocratic and not political. Classical marginalist economics claimed to be more objective and therefore that they could dispense with the label political economy, which was "relegated" to a branch of sociology.

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 17th, 2011 at 08:58:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
except that sociologists didn't buy it and Marxist sociologists relegated classical economics to a branch of the ideological superstructure of the state....

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Feb 17th, 2011 at 09:10:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Absolutely - I assumed that - technocratic = political maintenance of the status quo.
by Pope Epopt on Thu Feb 17th, 2011 at 09:47:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But that is a subversion of the term.

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 17th, 2011 at 09:54:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
From Irish blog Bock The Robber: Government Finally Allows Bank to Fail and Burns Bondholders
The government has finally decided that one of the banks isn't worth saving, and has forced senior bondholders to take haircuts of 41%.  Even more encouragingly, this action has been taken with the  full approval of the European Commission.

...

Unfortunately, the delinquent Amagerbanken is in Copenhagen and the government is Danish.

It seems that the EU is prepared to bless this burning of bondholders, while at the same time resolutely resisting an Irish action along the same lines.  It also seems that the Danish government possesses a maturity and sense of civic responsibility that our government lacks.



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 17th, 2011 at 09:59:08 AM EST


Display:
Go to: [ European Tribune Homepage : Top of page : Top of comments ]