Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

REPORTERS

Syria: Wresting control of Kobani from IS group

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

A who's who of the 'Bettencourt trial'

Read more

FOCUS

Golan Heights on edge...

Read more

THE BUSINESS INTERVIEW

Eugene Kaspersky: Cyber attacks on critical infrastructure 'just a question of time'

Read more

#THE 51%

Equality in the workplace: Bridging the gender pay gap

Read more

ENCORE!

The culture stars trying to save the world

Read more

#TECH 24

Technology helping visually impaired people

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Brands bet big on Super Bowl Sunday

Read more

YOU ARE HERE

A Paris hidden within its passages

Read more

Our Focus programme brings you exclusive reports from around the world. From Monday to Friday at 7.45 am Paris time.

FOCUS

FOCUS

Latest update : 2011-03-23

Fianna Fail's fall to be Sinn Fein's gain?

A new dawn beckons in Irish politics. Voters on Friday will choose a new government, in the hope of dragging the country out of its economic doldrums. Fianna Fail, the ruling party, has controlled Ireland for most of the last 80 years but they're expected to be punished following the death of the Celtic Tiger. Anything can happen in this election, with independents and Sinn Fein hoping to make gains on Fianna Fail's spoils.

Irish voters go to the polls in the midst of a severe economic crisis on Friday 25 February, a date which could become a defining moment in Irish politics.

Since the EU and IMF (International Monetary Fund) financial bail out last November, most international observers have been surprised by how moderate the reaction of the Irish people has been, when faced with a crisis of such magnitude. The three weeks of the election campaign gave voters the opportunity to voice their anger, when candidates knocked on their doors. However, this anger was not displayed on the streets in the way demonstrations spilled into violence in Greece, a few years ago. The government was not toppled and its leader not taken to court, as in Iceland. Why are the Irish so measured in their reaction? According to the The Irish Times Economics Editor Dan O’Brien, "a weak infrastructure of dissent" explains this moderation or "passivity", which has charaterised Irish society since the birth of the Republic, in the 1920s. Ireland’s political landscape is not divided along the same lines Left and Right lines as in most continental European countries. Those at the top of society, bankers or politicians, have not paid a high price for their share of responsibility in the financial chaos. Perhaps this general election will trigger some change in the status quo.

Political reshuffle

The outgoing Fianna Fail party is in complete disarray. Opinion polls indicate two significant patterns . The centre right party Fine Gael is well ahead and poised to win this election with around 38% of the share of votes, and its leader Enda Kenny should be crowned Taoiseach (Prime Minister). Friday 25 February could also mark the start of a re-alignment of Irish politics.

The campaign was polarised by the EU and IMF bail out, which saved Ireland from bankrupcy but is seen as a "bad deal" for the country. The most popular politician in Ireland (42% of support) is Labour’s leader Eamon Gilmore, who has vowed to renegociate all the terms of the financial deal with Europe. For the first time in history, the Irish Labour party could become the second largest political force after this election (20%), well ahead of Fianna Fail (14%), in both votes and seats in the Dail (Assembly).
On the hard left, Gerry Adams may well enter the Irish parliament, while his party Sinn Féin (11%) may double its presence from 6 to 12 seats. Some radical left wing independents also have a chance to be elected. There were 11% "don’t knows" in the opinion poll carried out by Millward Brown Landsdowne for the Irish Independent, published Wednesday 23 February.

 

Programme prepared by Kate Williams, Marie Billon and Patrick Lovett

By Neale DICKSON , Hervé AMORIC

COMMENT(S)

Archives

2015-01-30 Israel

Golan Heights on edge...

Tension is running high along the border between Israel and its Northern neighbours. Wednesday's Hezbollah attack which killed two Israeli soldiers comes on the heels of a strike...

Read more

2015-01-29 Spain

35 Basque independence activists face trial in Spain

The trial of 35 members of the political party Batasuna, which was due to open this Thursday in Madrid after being postponed following the arrest of several defence lawyers, has...

Read more

2015-01-28 Germany

Pegida, the movement dividing Germany

Pegida, the broadly anti-immigration movement born in Germany's east, has gained a huge following in the space of just a few months and made headlines around the world. The...

Read more

2015-01-27 Holocaust

Auschwitz, the symbol of industrial-scale extermination

On January 27th 1945, Red Army troops discovered, almost by chance, the Third Reich's largest extermination camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau. Seventy years on, FRANCE 24 looks back at...

Read more

2015-01-26 Ukraine

Eastern Ukraine dragged deeper into war

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine have ripped up peace agreements and vowed to go on the offensive. The Ukrainian authorities have said they will fight back. But...

Read more