HOW election-ready are the main political parties after the announcement of Budget 2018? And, more to the point, is the current minority government going to make it to the announcement of Budget 2019 in less than 12 months from now?
Many political pundits have been predicting that Taoiseach Leo Varadkar would go to the country seeking a new mandate sometime early next year, but certainly no later than budget time in the autumn when there should be a lot more money available to spread around than there was this time in order to try to curry favour with the electorate. There is a school of thought emerging that the next general election won’t be called until early 2019 now when people are feeling the benefits of that year’s budget in their pockets.
It could well be a case of history repeating itself, as the last Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, made a grave misjudgement by waiting until the Spring of 2016, at the behest of his Labour Party coalition partners, instead of running with the feelgood factor of the budget announcement the previous autumn. The suffering at the hands of the electorate for Fine Gael might not have been quite as bad if they had gone to the country earlier and they may not subsequently have been forced to depend on Fianna Fáil’s support for a minority government.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin may be waiting for Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to do something contrary to the spirit of the Confidence & Supply Agreement to give him an excuse to cause the government’s collapse, but the two biggest parties are being cautious about rocking the Ship of State too much.
Nevertheless, last weekend, at his party’s first Árd Fheis since last year’s general election, Mr Martin declared: ‘We have a government which is over-spinning and under-delivering in nearly everything. Obsessed with its own image, it is failing to address crisis after crisis caused by its own decisions.
‘People are tired of excuses – our country can’t afford any more delay,’ he warned. Which begs the question as to why are they still supporting such a government?