Doing political sumsSep 26th, 2009 | By Ian Poulton | Category: Ireland
Like some old medical complaint, memories of undergraduate days at the LSE suddenly exert influence and create the illusion that politics is exciting, or at least interesting.
RTE news carries a report this evening on a statement from minister John Gormley that there will need to be a two-thirds majority in votes at a Green Party special conference in two weeks’ time if the Greens are to remain part of the Government.
Mr Gormley’s message confirms that if a renegotiated Programme for Government is not supported by two thirds of the members, the Greens will not continue in Government.
He also confirms that the Greens will pull out of Government if a two thirds majority vote against the NAMA legislation.
There has been intense speculation about the procedures for the meeting on 10 October. Mr Gormley has now written to all members to explain exactly what will happen.
Mr Gormley has stated that everything depends on the party’s ability to agree a new Programme for Government and confirmed if a motion on the issue is not passed, the Green Party will not continue in Government, which means that one-third of the members can trigger an election.
Trigger an election? Yes, and the proverbial turkeys are going to have a two-thirds majority in favour of Christmas.
But, for a moment imagining undergraduate days have returned and exciting things might happen, what are the possible scenarios?
The most likely outcome is a vote in favour of continuing and the Green Party continuing in a Mr Micawber-like hope that something will turn up to prevent the extinction of their parliamentary party at the General Election in two and a half years time. This will mean we continue with Government plans to pay €54 billion for assets that even the Finance Minister says are not worth more than €47 billion at present values. By the time of the election, the level of national indebtedness will be so large that the next government will have to devote its entire energies to trying to balance budgets.
But, what if the Green grass roots decide integrity outweighs expediency, yet don’t want to face electoral oblivion?
What if they decided to cross the floor?
The arithmetic for a three-party coalition would be Fine Gael 52 + Labour 20 + Green Party 6, that’s 78, still five votes short of a majority in Dail Eireann, but who on the present Government benches would wish for a General Election? Would Fianna Fail vote against the election of Enda Kenny as Taoiseach in the knowledge that they might lose up to thirty seats in the ensuing poll? Would a wily Fianna Fail leader not let the Opposition assume power in the knowledge that governments become unpopular, and, as in 1997, there is the prospect of a comeback after a mid-term change of government?
Enda Kenny would obviously like an election, a Fine Gael-Labour Coalition would gain a commanding working majority, but his best prospect of power in the short term is to promise the Greens that there would be no election, to try and lure them across the blue carpet of Leinster House with soft words.
Is any of the above likely to happen? Are the two Green ministers on their massive six figure salaries likely to give up their positions? It hardly seems like it
For a moment, it all seemed almost interesting.