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While the recent opinion poll seems to show overwhelming public, and Green party voter support for a coalition deal with FF and FG, that may cut little ice with the Green party's c. 2,400 members most of whom are recent, younger, and more left-leaning than the party leadership.

The fact that a third of them live in N. Ireland and have less direct "skin in the game" complicates matters further. Many are policy wonks, most operate outside any established consensus, and not a few are idealists and zealots in the Green cause. The vague fuzzy compromises contained in the programme for government will be anathema to many of them. It only takes 33.4% of the membership who actually vote to block the deal, and this may very well end up happening.

So what happens then? A belated attempt to stitch together a deal with a ragbag of independents? Whatever chance an 85 TD government has of lasting the course, the chance of a 73 member FF/FG coalition with a few independents tagged on lasting for 4 years must be minimal given the scale of problems the government is likely to face. Leo will probably switch to plan B and call a general election in August based on much the same policy platform and, if current polls are even half-way accurate, clean up on FF if not the Greens. Independents and the smaller parties of the left will also suffer.

It is unclear, in that scenario, if the FF/FG coalition deal will survive or if both parties would campaign as separate entities. FG currently stand at 37% and FF at 13%. Why would they still agree to rotate the Taoiseach if the actual result were even close to that? But who would agree to coalesce with them if they reneged on their deal with FF? Would the prospect of a FF/SF coalition under a different FF leader re-surface?

the choice to have another election is in Leo's hands (subject to Presidential approval) and he and his party might take the view that they have an opportunity to:

  1. Steel the Green's clothes
  2. Relegate FF to the minor league
  3. Retain the Taoiseach and most cabinet roles for themselves, and
  4. an outside chance of a near majority in their own right if they can achieve the 37% of the first preference vote as indicated by the polls. After all, they can hardly do worse than last February.

All they have to do is blame the "unrealistic" Greens for having forced their hand. They can claim they have waited 6 months for an alternative government to be formed, have negotiated in good faith with FF and the Greens, and don't see a prospect of a secure and stable government with the independents (which wasn't what the electorate voted for in any case).

According to the opinion poll, a second general election is what a third of the electorate want now in any case - almost as many as those who support this coalition. Add in a few more weeks of frustration with the Greens, a little more opening up of the economy, and that number could be over 50%. It's a new world, post Covid-19, and there is a lot of pent up frustration in the electorate. Any new election will be a binary choice between FG and SF, with everyone else an also ran. What's not to like from an FG and SF perspective?

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jun 18th, 2020 at 01:00:30 PM EST

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