Bankster-Coddling Party Suffers “Electoral Meltown”

Everyone knew that Fianna Fáil was going to lose Friday’s election in Ireland. But the results (still coming in because the Irish hand count their paper ballots and have an instant runoff voting system) are pretty stunning. Here’s how Fianna Fáil did in Laois-Offaly (both Mr. EW’s home district and that of outgoing Taoiseach Brian Cowen) in 2007 (these graphics are from the Irish Times):

And here’s how they did Friday:

And Laois-Offaly is going to be one of Fianna Fáil’s stronger districts (Cowen’s brother, Barry, will likely take one of the five seats). In Dublin, FF went from holding 13 seats in parliament to just one, that of the former Finance Minister Brian Lenihan. And the Green Party, which had been in coalition with FF, will lose all 6 of the seats it held.

Now, it’s not clear that Fine Gael–which will rule with Labor–will be all that much better than FF with regards to coddling banksters. Rising Taoiseach Enda Kenny has promised to renegotiate the bailout, but unless and until he threatens to default, Ireland will still be taking money from retirees to pay off the banksters.

But what will be interesting is the presence of more further left members of Parliament. And Gerry Adams, Sinn Féin’s President, will have a seat in the Republic’s parliament for the first time. He’s been getting a lot of press for his populist criticism of the bailout:

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams says a good government requires a good opposition, vowing his party would oppose the “swingeing, anti-citizen, economically-illiterate measures” being proposed by the establishment parties.

So it’s not clear whether this “electoral meltdown” will have an effect on the banks. But it sure is interesting to see how political accountability works in a system with more than two parties.

A Big Day for BIFFO?


One of the first things people asked me when I arrived in Ireland on Sunday was whether I had seen Bertie Ahern’s address to Congress last Wednesday. It was the swan song of his time as Ireland’s Taoiseach (Prime Minister-pronounced Tea Shack), a celebrated address in America that had gotten very big play on Irish telly. After a drawn out influence scandal had finally sunk his credibility, Bertie had announced about six weeks ago that he would turn in his resignation on May 6.

Bertie’s resignation was actually a bit of big news in Offaly, mr. emptywheel’s county, since Bertie’s presumed replacement (it’ll become official while I’m on the flight home) is Brian Cowen, the TD from Offaly. In just about every town in the county (particularly Tullamore, the county seat and the home of mr. emptywheel’s parents), there’s a picture of Cowen, congratulating him on ascending to Taoiseach. He’ll be back in Offaly on Saturday for a big celebration.

People call Cowen "BIFFO," the slur one uses for Offaly men–Big Ignorant Fucker from Offaly–presumably invoking the day when Offaly was mostly sheep farms and peat bogs.

That was before Ireland joined the EU, though, and certainly before the time when Cowen took on a leadership role in Fianna Fail, Ireland’s equivalent to the Republican Party. Tullamore has become a bedroom community for Dublin and has attracted a bit of corporate investment itself, so there’s a brand new giant Tesco and new housing developments going up everywhere.

Also, Ireland has started decentralizing the government outside of Dublin. So, as the Finance Minister, Cowen had gotten Ireland’s finance ministry moved to Tullamore, into a building almost across the street from mr. emptywheel’s boyhood home, in what had been a big empty field. (It seems like the decentralization has resulted in national offices springing up in the county seats of all the TDs who have served as ministers in Bertie’s government, but after Cowen shuffles the cabinet, it’ll result in the TD from Cork having to commute from Cork to both Tullamore and Dublin to fulfill all his roles.) And now that Cowen will be Taoiseach, my father-in-law figures, it’ll hasten the completion of the motorway connecting Tullamore to Dublin, and ensure the main streets will be improved.

Pork is not just an American institution, you know.

So today, Cowen will become Taoiseach and, if Tullamore is lucky, it’ll mean lots of pork for Offaly.

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