Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Wall Street Journal on Election Outcomes

Morgan Kelly's famous 'kindness of strangers' article in the Times predicted political upheaval in Ireland as a result of the economic upheaval.

As ordinary people start to realise that this thing is not only happening, it is happening to them, we can see anxiety giving way to the first upwellings of an inchoate rage and despair that will transform Irish politics along the lines of the Tea Party in America. Within five years, both Civil War parties are likely to have been brushed aside by a hard right, anti-Europe, anti-Traveller party that, inconceivable as it now seems, will leave us nostalgic for the, usually, harmless buffoonery of Biffo, Inda, and their chums.

There isn't the same data-based support for this than for the correct predictions he made throughout the economic decline but few would dismiss his predictions after the last couple of years. The fact that this did not happen during this election is not a refutation as he is making a medium-term prediction. The Wall Street Journal carry a similar theme today, arguing that the bailout terms may lead to the current government getting hammered at the next polls unless they are modified. I go along with the analysis that the interest rate is too high. I think this fuels cynicism about the intentions of European intervention among many in Ireland. But I really wonder whether we are seeing evidence of a growing political shift based on economic unrest.

It was a "revolution lite," swapping one center-right party for another. But there will be other elections, and there are signs that many Irish voters are starting to contemplate more radical responses to the country's economic problems.

This is one I would like to see a political scientist address but what I saw over the weekend was a rout of a political party that had been in power for too long and which oversaw an economic collapse, and the transfer of power to two centrist parties. I think there are many conceivable scenarious where Sinn Fein would have gained seats and they were unlucky not to do so in the last election. One open question is whether there are the seeds of something like what Morgan Kelly was suggesting in the disparate group of independents that have been elected but for now its really hard to see anything by way of hard-right, anti-immigrant or anti-travellor sentiment in the about-to-be-formed Dail. I hope Morgan turns out to be wrong and I think he will be forgiven one bum prediction given his prophecy in all his substantive predictions.

1 comment:

Kevin O'Rourke said...

A strong anti-immigrant sentiment appeared during the Lisbon referendum campaign in 2008 so there are the latent attitudes there, which could well be brought out if things go badly enough on the economic front (IMO).