WHO would have thought it? Only a few weeks ago, the pollsters were widely predicting the triumphant return of Fine Gael to government. Even on the day the toiling masses cast their vote in the general election, ‘experts’ armed with the latest ‘constituency-level analysis’ were bleating that FG was on course for 64 seats, FF 26, SF 29, Labour 10.
In the event, Fine Gael dropped 26 seats compared to the previous election. Fianna Fáil increased to 44 seats. Sinn Féin secured 23 deputies and Labour only managed to hold seven seats. It left the polling companies with a large egg smear on their collective face; proof, if it were needed, that no one involved in opinion polling knew anything.
But it was that nice gentleman, Taoiseach Indakinny, for whom we had the most sympathy. His party didn’t deserve the drubbing that it got, and he being a distinguished statesman and all who will go down in the annals of dowcha-boy defiance for having cocked a snoot at the Holy Father himself. Who can forget the sight of a bored Inda fiddling with his iPhone while others were absorbing Vatican wisdom during a special Papal audience?
Sadly, in the recent election the Fates took vengeance on Inda, humiliatingly reducing the poor chap’s political status too that of ‘Caretaker Taoiseach’ – similar to the job of sacristan of that most unhallowed place in Christendom, the Dáil.
Ides of March
And we shouldn’t forget that it was the opinion polls ‘what done him in’. They predicted a rollicking victory, which didn’t happen.
For his failure, the Caretaker can now expect a deadly knife-thrust from Blueshirts infuriated at the way he ballsed-up the election. (Oh, if only Inda’s infamous iPhone carried the email address of Julius Caesar’s soothsayer, an opinion pollster in Roman times who was very clued-in to the dangers lurking in the Ides of March!)
But whatever about the unpredictability of opinion polls, we love the things.
Nevertheless, we also recognise they’re as useless as a turd in a punch bowl! Indeed, polls have become a craze, inspiring great excitement, not to mention impaired judgement and agitated fluctuations of hope and despair.
Perhaps one-day psychologists will attribute Eire’s political dementia to the incessant sampling of public opinion. The latest Red C poll for the Sunday Business Post is a case in point.
Carried out immediately after the calamitous election result, the conclusions were grim: Ireland was ungovernable! To make matters worse, the poll showed that in the event of another general election the result largely would be the same for most of the political parties, except Labour.
Compared to last month’s election, support for FF would rise to 25%, up a point; FG to 27%, also up a point; SF to 15%, up a point; while the wretched Irish Labour Party would fall by three points to 4%. Support for independents would drop by four points to 9%; Social Democrats would go up to 5%; People before Profit would remain unchanged at 4%.
Number cruncher extraordinaire, Adrian Kavanagh, put meat on the percentages. He opined that FF would get 47 seats (up 3), FG 53 (up 3), SF 25 (up 2), People before Profit 5 (down 1), Social Democrats 4 (up 1), Greenies 2, Independents 22 (up 4) and Labour nothing (down 7).
Still the strongest
Response to the possibility of another general election has been unambiguous. Why, people ask, would Caretaker Kenny risk a second general election, considering that FG has not collapsed and is still Ireland’s largest political party, despite losing a substantial number of deputies?
As for Fianna Fáil, the chance of winning another three seats is not enough of a motivating influence to warrant a new election.
So, as matters stand, a FF-FG partnership is the only show in town; and, besides, coalition is bewitchingly alluring because no unsavoury independents would be needed in order to form a government. Crucial to the decision are the right-wing men and women of property in the two parties who want stability in government at all costs. Those guys won’t look kindly on gauchos who put party interest ahead of the national (i.e. business) interest.
So, what’s deterring Fianna Fail and Fine Gael from forming a nice family unit, in the ideological sense, and establishing a snug refuge in Leinster House?
Indeed, the furry little creatures of the animal world are not unlike our politicos. To attract a mate, they too exhibit a manner of conducting themselves that often includes ritualised movement and eccentric sounds. Jumping spiders, for instance, like to show off their bodily attributes, such as hairy legs and other bizarre attributes.
And, according to bird watchers, crested auklets will cackle at one another as a vocal form of mutual display because their unique form of communication serves to strengthen a bond between the two. The similarity to what’s currently going on among politicos is weird!
Even more intriguing, palaeontologists recently discovered large scrape marks in Colorado that are evidence of dinosaur courtship rituals 145 million years ago. Consequently, we must take it as a normal fact of life that if dinosaurs can amalgamate with ease and comfort, it should be a cinch for human dinosaurs to do the same.
Public opinion demands FF-FG engage in semi-permanent wedlock, however eccentric or gonzo it might be. After all, the two parties are ideologically compatible and would have a Dáil majority of more than 90 seats. And that is the most mouth-watering inducement of all!
Here’s a joke: During the election campaign, Taoiseach Enda Kenny visited the ‘Reeege’ (ITT) in Tralee, stumbling into a class that was discussing words and their meanings. The lecturer asked Inda if he would like to lead the discussion on the word ‘tragedy’.
Flattered, the former National School teacher asked the class for an example of ‘tragedy’. A cocky fellow stood up and offered: ‘If my best friend, who lives on a farm, were run over by a tractor and killed, that would be a tragedy.’
‘No,’ said Inda, ‘that would be an accident.’
A student from Clonakilty raised her hand: ‘If the recent flood drowned everyone inside my house, that would be a tragedy.’
‘I’m afraid not,’ sighed Inda. ‘That’s what we call a great loss.’
Finally, a somewhat annoyed student muttered in a quiet voice. ‘If the government jet carrying you, Taoiseach, was struck by a missile and blown to pieces, that would be a tragedy.’
‘Excellent!’ exclaimed Inda. ‘And can you tell me why that would be a tragedy?’
‘Well,’ said the student, it has to be a tragedy because it certainly wouldn’t be a great loss, and it wouldn’t be a fecking accident either!’