Ireland votes for new faces, not new policies

So the election is over. There is a great amount of self-congratulatory comment about how the election was a democratic revolution. While the result of the election was excellent for both center-right Fine Gael and center-left Labour and a renunciation of centrist, populist Fianna Fáil, I would hardly call it a "revolution."

It's more like a change of management than a revolution. Fianna Fáil failed - spectacularly so - to manage the government, the banks, the economy, etc. The people didn't revolt, however, they simply replaced the management team with Fine Gael and Labour (presumably - the coalition deal is not finalized yet).

The biggest issue here at the moment is how will we cope with the massive debts thanks to our bank guarantee and the huge hole in the public finances due to mismanagement of income and expenses by the previous government. During the campaign both parties pledged, essentially, to ask the EU and European Central Bank (ECB) to cut us a break, but nothing more than that. Unlike some of the smaller parties and independent candidates, neither Fine Gael nor Labour vowed to repudiate the debts of Irish banks. We're stuck with those.

On the fiscal deficit, the two parties had slight variations on the theme of government cutbacks and increased taxes, which has been laid down by our ECB/IMF overlords. Again nothing drastic and nothing that can't be settled in negotiations between the two main parties.

This is what the people wanted: new, hopefully better management, but no real change. This little detail was lost in most of the breathless coverage in the Irish media, which was focused on the collapse in the vote for the previously inevitable Fianna Fáil. They now have only 20 members in Ireland's parliament (Dáil), down from 71 before the election.


Fianna Fáil has been dealt a serious blow. They may not recover. Yet they may. Either way, it hardly compares with the changes and state of flux across many states in North Africa. They're having revolutions. We're not.

{Photo - Fine Gael leader and probably Ireland's next Prime Minister, Enda Kenny}

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