Why I'm betting Ireland have an historic single party Fine Gael government

Ireland's general election on Friday, February 25th may be about to return the kind of verdict that was so unlikely a few days ago that bookmakers were offering 25/1 on it.

A friend of mine, a senior figure in Fine Gael went into a bookmakers and took the bet. He is feeling pretty happy today.

A weekend poll showed the opposition right of center Fine Gael party on 38 percent and surging and the possibility of a one party government was suddenly front and center.

Up to the latest poll the unanimous consensus was that Fine Gael and the Labor Party would share power in a coalition government.

Just a few months ago the two parties were neck and neck and well clear of Fianna Fail whose vote is set to collapse after presiding over the worst financial crisis in history. After 22 of 24 years in power Fianna Fail are set for a long period in opposition

However, in recent weeks, Fine Gael have caught the mood of the voters far better than Labor whose leader Eamon Gilmore began the campaign as very much a candidate for prime minister but now may be lucky to be in government.

Fine Gael have surged on a no-nonsense, no promises program except one -- that they will not raise taxes.

After years of blandishments and extravagant promises that brought the country to the brink of ruin the Fine Gael manifesto is proving popular with an electorate finally ready to buckle down and move to the last stage of acceptance of their near terminal condition.

The moment was caught in the leader's debate on Monday night when Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny did not gild the lilly and told an audience of close to one million watching that they would all have to share the pain. All the other parties fudged that very same issue.

At 38 percent Fine Gael are still short of a majority government, but under Ireland's complicated electoral system, if they reach the low to mid 40 percent mark they will garner close to the 84 seats in the parliament. Even if they fall short they could easily rule in conjunction with some of the many independents who will be elected.

It will be an historic moment if they do. Not since the formation of the Irish Republic have Fine Gael ever ruled alone.

Indeed, most frequently they were the Washington Generals to the Harlem Globetrotters, always close but no cigar.

However, they may well be lighting up the Havanas come Friday February 25th


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