Did the Green Party in Ireland blow their shot?

I was writing comments on this article by Slugger O’Toole for my daily link post, but it got too long to fit in the 1,000 character limit that Del.icio.us allows (that happens a lot, but I didn’t want to truncate this comment).  So I’m posting the quotes and comments separately here.

As I’ve said previously, I’ve voted Green #1 for the past three elections, which is as long as there has been a Green on the ballot paper.  On each occasion my #2 preference, the Labour candidate, has been elected.  I find myself really disappointed that there are not a greater number of people in Ireland who are willing to put the long-term Green agenda ahead of the immediate financial problems that the country faces.  I find it particularly stupid because I believe that no matter what government we elected, they would end up doing the same thing; and also because it was always clear that FG would be forming the next government. The only way to put Green issues on the agenda was a substantial first preference vote for the Green party.  As it stands, FG/Labour can ignore any potential Green issues – after all, the electorate did.

Anyway, here are the quotes from the article that prompted my thoughts, which is looking at the possible permutations for the formation of the next government.  IF we get the FG-Labour coalition:

“With fifteen or so ministers plus up to ten junior ministers, whips and a new Ceann Comhairle, there will be close to 90 relatively under-used government TDs. Such a large government may be hard to keep in check.”

… which is an interesting point.  However, the following is the kind of thinking that makes politicians so unpopular:

“A lot depends on what Labour feels are the immediate lessons learnt from the election campaign (and it’s capacity to emerge as the largest party).”

Ignoring the abuse of the apostrophe by the writer, this sounds terribly unprincipled. Is getting elected the primary goal of a political party? A lot of politicians say yes, on the basis that if you are not elected, you cannot affect change.  But if you sacrifice your principles in order to get power, then you might as well not have bothered.

Squaring this circle is the fundamental issue of the democratic process.  The Greens in 2007 took the view that they would do a deal with the devil in order to get access to power and implement some of their most beloved policies – reformation of the planning and VRT systems, civil partnership etc.  However, by taking this step, they ensured that they would have no chance of being in government for the foreseeable future.  Did they do the right thing?  I actually think they did, because the policies they implemented are likely to stay in place. Also given the time-critical nature of climate change, they needed to take any action possible ASAP. But that doesn’t change the fact that as a result of supporting the last FF government, we now have 0 Green TDs.

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~ by Lynn Duffy on March 1, 2011.

One Response to “Did the Green Party in Ireland blow their shot?”

  1. I agree it is ridiculous to suggest that the greens do not deserve to be in power because they previously did a deal with the devil as you say. Also, I think another big problem is related to the fact that people just don’t consider environmental issues as important as more ‘immediate’ concerns such as the economy and fiscal policy…there is a desperate need to get children and younger ppl thinking differently so that when the next generation emerges a new culture of voting and electoral decision making tactics emerges

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