Whilst I have followed the Irish General Election in detail, I have thus far avoided commenting upon it. The result was never in doubt. Only the exact distribution of seats.
With the Election now over, it is time to congratulate the new Taoiseach-in-waiting, Mr. Enda Kenny on a great and decisive victory. Mr. Kenny heads Fine Gael, a political party which is the nearest thing to a centre-right party in the Irish Republic. With that affinity in mind, those of us with similar political values can share in the pleasure of his victory.
How the change of Government will affect Ireland’s economic prospects is difficult to tell. Much will depend upon the programme for Government agreed with the Irish Labour Party, their likely coalition partners. Together, the two parties can and should put political rivalry to one side in the National interest. Their common purpose will be to create and follow road map which will deliver Ireland back its freedom from overwhelming national debt. It is understood that the new Government will be allowing some, but not all, of the banks to fail. That will probably be the easiest measure they take in dealing with the crisis. They will still have to tackle their budget deficit. That almost certainly means making swinging cuts in public spending. They will face resistance from their civil service. This will create tension within the Irish Labour Party.
Negotiations with the other European leaders could prove to be their most difficult task of all. The New Government will not be without options despite the EU bailout package negotiated by their predecessors. The problem with their negotiating position is that their leverage is more like a ‘nuclear option’ than a genuine “Plan B.” However, leaving Ireland in a state where it is weighed down by interest on debt for generations to come is not an option. They must find a way of renegotiating the debt and, at the same time, hold on to their fiscal freedom.