So there it is, we will have an election in February. This has been my contention for months and now Dr. Jimmy McDaid TD (FF) stated today that the next Government will be a Fine Gael coalition and that it would be in the ‘interest of the Country and of Fianna Fail’ to go to the Country in February. Of course, Minister Mary Hanafin stated almost immediately that the Government will run its full term. Some chance.
The logic for Fianna Fail calling an election is simple. Fianna Fail haven’t a chance of keeping all their rural backbench TD’s on side when faced with votes on NAMA, Lisbon and the final nail in the political coffin, Budget 2009 in December. Massive reductions in the Public Service wage bill are an absolute imperative. Bertie Ahern knew all along that it had to be done but also knew that it would bring down the FF led Government. So for the entire period of his tenure the numbers employed and the wage bill rose dramatically.
Now the game is up and Fianna Fail have no choice but to cut numbers, higher grade salaries and pension entitlements. As soon as these measures are announced the unions will go ballistic and will warn of strikes. Right now, most public service unions are planning to ballad their members over the next few weeks in relation to their members willingness to strike, in the face of cuts.
So, if Fianna Fail try to carry off the impossible and fail, then an election will be forced on them after which they and the Greens will be decimated.
However if Mr. Cowen and FF take the initiative and the high moral ground that goes with it, they will announce the contents of the Budget and simultaneously tell us that it is in the interest of the Country (read FF) that they will seek a mandate from the people to implement the Budget, which is of enormous national importance etc. The result of the election should they call it, will not matter to the party as it will be least damaging of the two options open to Fianna Fail i.e. to jump or be pushed.
The first possible outcome, believe it or not, is that they actually pull it off and get re-elected (don’t underestimate their ability to hood wink the public again) so happy days for FF. The second is that they lose the election they called , although by a smaller margin than they would have if the election had been forced on them. The result in this case would be that Fine Gael and its partners will have to clean up the Fianna Fail created mess, while simultaneously we will have Fianna Fail on the backbenches articulating our anger at the continuing demise of the economy.
After a few years of regrouping, watching the Fine Gael coalition losing all credibility with the public and all the while riding out the recession, we will then re-elect Fianna Fail for another ten years.