Could Ireland end up with a Labor/Sinn Fein/Left independents government after the upcoming election?
That may not be as farfetched as once was the case.
The combined left vote in last Friday's Irish Sun opinion poll was 40 per cent, 24 per cent for Labor, 16 per cent for Sinn Fein.
There was also a massive 11 per cent vote for independents, most of whom will be left- leaning.
If you do the math it gets awfully close.
The conventional wisdom is a Fine Gael/ Labor government which, on the numbers, Fine Gael at 31 per cent, Labor at 24 per cent would deliver a huge Dail majority.
However, Labor and Fine Gael are an uncomfortable fit in the latest realities of Irish politics.
The IMF/European Union bailout has divided the country strongly left and right and a deal between two partners from opposite ends of the spectrum may prove a lot more difficult than anticipated.
If Labor finish relatively close to Fine Gael in seat numbers they may well want a rotating Prime Minister situation which would be very difficult for Fine Gael to swallow.
Labor will know too, that the history of Irish politics in recent times is that the minority partner in a coalition gets crushed-- see the Progressive Democrats which no longer exists as a party and the Green Party which may not exist after the next election either.
All that will prove fodder for Labor leader Eamon Gilmore. (pictured)
For Fine Gael the only other alternative is to go in with Fianna Fail who are at 13 per cent in the poll. That, however, would rub their supporters completely the wrong way, as well as the country in general.
The popular mood is for Fianna Fail to spend a long time in opposition in return for the way they have fouled up the economy.
But Labor/SinnFein would also have its major problems. There is no love lost between many in the Labor party including Gilmore who came from the Offical Sinn Fein party that broke apart from the Provisional Sinn Fein.
The Officials versus Provos battle has continued unabated for many years now and it would likely resume after this election as both fight for the left wing vote.
All in all a confused situation, but while Labor/Fine Gael will likely paper over the cracks and form the government, the idea of a left wing go it alone government cannot be ruled out.
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