We don’t have a government. Well, technically we do, but it wasn’t chosen by the current Dáil. Negotiations to form a new government have been interrupted and/or given an added impetus by the coronavirus pandemic. Varadkar and his caretaker cabinet have been doing ok though. He knows he can’t do anything that doesn’t have the overwhelming support of the Dáil so we have, in practice, a national government in place. It’s obviously not sustainable, but for now it’ll do. And while all organs of the State are bent on saving lives, politicians have to find the time to put together some sort of arrangement that will allow, sooner rather than later, for a new Taoiseach, a new cabinet and a new suite of policies to be elected by this Dáil.
I’m a member of the Green Party. Before the election I had hoped we would be required by either Fine Gael or Fianna Fail to form a government. We would drive a hard bargain and walk away if we couldn’t get exactly what we wanted.
I joined the Green Party because it is a coalition. All serious political parties are coalitions, but I think the breadth of ideologies in the Green Party is quite something. There are sections of the party I’d really like to see get in the sea. Some I’m glad didn’t win seats. But I don’t care about them. I joined the Green Party because it is a coalition of people who’d like to see states, societies and all humans begin to treat our planet as being the only planet we can inhabit. You know, the reality. I’ve no love for, nor loyalty to, the Green Party. I can’t even see it existing in ten to twenty years time. Either we’ll be so successful that our continued existence will appear anachronistic. Or we’ll fail and have nothing to contribute to the End Times but our lettuce.
I don’t care if we go into coalition with either Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael. Fianna Fáil was my first preference as they have no actual ideology other than a burning need to be in power. Fine Gael have an identifiable ideology. It’s wrong but they have something. And I say that as a former member of FG. That they learned nothing from the Great Recession astounds me. Their constant need to monetise misery, through Direct Provision and HAP, appals me.
Either would have been useful to us if they’d been suitably motivated. But together? In power with one of them, we’d have suffered at the next election. But together? We’d be wiped out at the next general election. Being wiped out isn’t the worst thing in the world. It would be inconvenient yes, but the inevitable lack of progress in moving the country towards dealing with the climate crisis and the biodiversity crisis? Now that would be criminal.
Which leaves us with Sinn Féin. I despise Sinn Féin and everything they represent. I’d hoped they would never get into power in my lifetime. Then they unquestionably won the last election. They may be criticised for their election strategy but every poll indicated they would have to work very hard to just hold what they had. No one predicated that the consistent failure, the ideologically motivated failure of FG and their cheerleaders in FF would move so many people to vote SF. I despise them but any government that doesn’t include them is a government the Greens cannot be a part of. They care as little for the environment as FG and FF and they are as desperate to be in power as FG and FF. But they won the last election, morally and in first preferences.
FG and FF cannot countenance including SF in government. I understand that. For ideological reasons for the former and existential reasons for the latter. And I dare say some would also argue for moral reasons. Instead they will throw money at certain constituencies to bring Independents on board and they’ll muddle their way through, for a time. Particular constituencies will end up with better roads than their neighbours because screwing over your neighbours is ok in this country.
The Greens will be in opposition. This is a good thing. So much bigger with vastly increased resources and a motivated base. We have a maximum of five years to prepare, to campaign, to educate, to learn and to be in a position where serious environmental policies will no longer scare and confuse the larger parties. Come the next election we will be asked to support either an amalgamated FG/FF or a Sinn Féin led administration. We won’t have lost ten years by being tied to the disastrously parochial government we are about to see cobbled together.
(But if there was to be a genuine national unity government that included Sinn Féin and at least one of the left of centre parties then I’d support the Greens being in that.)