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As leader of the third largest party, Leo is in no position to lead anything right now. His best option is Leader of the opposition and hope FF and SF destroy each other in government followed by FG becoming the largest party after the next election.

His second best option is coalition with FF where Martin gets first go at being Taoiseach for 2 years, followed by Leo for another two: Following which either or both FF and FG will implode and SF becomes the largest party by far.

This is a battle for survival between FF and FG as to who becomes the dominant conservative party in opposition to SF. Three roughly equal large parties is fundamentally unstable and will resolve itself into two big and one small party in due course.

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by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Feb 25th, 2020 at 10:39:05 PM EST
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< wipes tears >
by Cat on Tue Feb 25th, 2020 at 11:03:37 PM EST
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In Finland three large parties for some thirthy years (roughly 1980-2010) dominated the scene - the Soc-dems, the Centre (rural) and the Conservatives, with a gradually developing formula of the two largest forming the coalition (with a smattering of smaller parties) and the third leading the opposition.

So a three party system can be done, though it seems likely that one of FG or FF will decline.

by fjallstrom on Sat Feb 29th, 2020 at 11:31:15 AM EST
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Possible but unlikely in the Irish situation because of the Irish electorate's habit of punishing whatever party accepts a junior role in a coalition. The Labour party has been all but destroyed, the Progressive Democrats have disappeared, and the Greens are only now recovering 10 years after propping up a disastrous Fianna Fail government.

What is different this time is how closely grouped the three parties are. If Fianna Fail and Fine Gael form a joint coalition and rotate the office of Taoiseach, then the ultimate outcome is still in doubt. But the suspicion is that whoever loses ground is set for a precipitous decline the next time around.

The Labour party and the Social democrats - 6 seats each - have both said they won't enter into a FF/FG government arrangement- fearful of being seen to prop up a conservative government at a time when the electorate voted for change. The Greens, being a policy driven party, might just about get away with it, if they are seen to have a significant and positive impact on policy.

But most likely is probably a FF/FG government propped up by a mixed bag of independents cutting local deals on hospitals, roads, and targetted expenditure in their constituencies - to the annoyance of everybody else, particularly government back-benchers in constituencies not so favoured. But another election is also possible if FF/FG can't get their act together, and then I would expect Sinn Fein to do even better.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Feb 29th, 2020 at 12:27:03 PM EST
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