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Control for the new Irish government is up in the air. Photo by: Photocall

Ireland’s political landscape takes a tectonic shift post election

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Control for the new Irish government is up in the air. Photo by: Photocall

The Irish election results presage a tectonic shift in the next election that will ensure massive uncertainty right up to polling day as to who will constitute the next government.

Indeed it may last long after polling day, as it appears likely there will be much hard bargaining and horse-trading to be done after the last vote is counted.

Given the volatile nature of government these days, there is no certainty that the election projected for spring or early summer 2016 will even be that far away.

Though there still is a massive government majority, the deep splits between the two governing parties are still very evident.

Irish politics has entered a new era and will be fascinating to watch for the foreseeable future.

For 80 years or so it was Fianna Fail first on their own or else with a minority partner, or Fine Gael also with a minority partner.

There are so many likely combinations after the recent elections that it is difficult to fully comprehend what just happened.

A Sinn Fein/Labor left wing independents is now a possibility, as is a Sinn Fein/Fianna Fail coalition.

Equally Fine Gael with Fianna Fail would introduce the end of civil war politics and bring about a left/right divide in Irish politics which has never happened before.

There are even dire predictions of a similar wipe out for the Labor Party like what happened to the Progressive Democrats and the Green Party when they were the minority partner in government.

That would be catastrophic for Ireland's oldest political party, one infused originally by the vision of 1916 leader James Connolly.

But nothing is as it was in the Irish landscape after the recent election. The sheer number of independents elected to local councils speaks to a strong protest vote that may or may not last until the next general election.

The Labor Party will have a new leader next month, likely to be Joan Burton who, while she appeals to the party’s grassroots, may have a hard time getting her Dublin-centric persona across to the wider country.

Labor and Sinn Fein will engage in a major dogfight for the working class vote while Fianna Fail and Fine Gael will battle for the middle class recognition. It remains to be seen if Labor will continue to fall away, or if the new leader will re-energize the party.

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein will continue its upward trajectory it seems, but it remains to be seen if there is a “green ceiling” especially in middle class areas to their vote.

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