Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Which party would I support in Ireland?

Today is St Patrick's Day, so an obvious question for the political blogosphere is which party would one support in Ireland? I've looked at this one before (With St. Patrick's Day looming) but since then the party I choose (the Progressive Democrats) have disbanded. So it's time to have another go.

Ireland is relatively unusual in having two major parties floating around the centre to centre-right that are not clearly defined in terms of ideology. This is most vividly seen in the European Parliament where both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have never quite fitted into any of the groupings with ease. Fine Gael has always sat with the Christian Democratic European People's Party but many feel its natural home is with the Liberals. Fianna Fáil in turn has had a convoluted history of caucusing with various national-conservative parties who have been outside the EPP for one reason or another but found difficulties in maintaining a viable block and so last year joined the Liberals.

Furthermore the only notable Eurosceptic party is Sinn Féin, not exactly the obvious choice for me. So whichever party I'd choose would be one I wouldn't agree fully with - a fairly natural thing in politics.

One party stands out as having official values I generally feel I can support:
Equality of opportunity

[The party] wants to create a fair and caring society where everybody is engaged in democracy, and where there are no barriers to equal opportunity. [The party] stands for investment in our public services and sees health and education as rights, not privileges.

Enterprise and Reward

[The party] encourages initiative, innovation, investment and self-reliance. The Party also believes in preserving, enhancing and sharing prosperity. [The party] stands for a vibrant, competitive economy. To that end, we believe Government policy should encourage initiative and reward hard work, thus driving economic activity and creating jobs.

Security

[The party] wants to build a safe society in Ireland by protecting citizens and enforcing the law. The Party also believes in strengthening families, in all their modern forms, and in fostering communities. [The party] stands for law and order. We believe in tough sentences for criminals and more Gardai on the beat while also tackling the root causes of crime like poverty and educational disadvantage.

Integrity

[The party] believes in being truthful and courageous in what we do, and in promoting and upholding both the rights and the responsibilities of people. [The party] stands for integrity in public life. We believe in ensuring all of us live up to our responsibilities as well as enjoying our rights as Irish men and women.

Hope

[The party] wants to build an Ireland of excellence and ambition. We hope to do this by promoting a shared vision of a confident and sustainable future for Ireland, both at home and abroad. [The party] stands for a climate of hope. To achieve this, we believe in enhancing Ireland's international reputation through our support for the European Union, protecting communities through balanced regional development and safeguarding our children's future through protection of the environment.
A strong emphasis on an enterprise economy, tough on law and order, creating equality of opportunity and support for families and communities - these are all values I share and can agree with. I'm less enamoured with the support for the European Union, though the phrasing above makes it as much a means rather than an ends in itself. But putting that one issue aside I can easily see myself supporting this party. And it is:

But which party would other people support?

2 comments:

Paul Ingham said...

Apparently when Ireland first elected MEPs there was a taxi race from the airport to EU headquarters by both Parties to register as the official "Christian Democrat" representative. Those were the days when that status could still get you votes in the 26 counties.
Since the PD's are no more I think I'd have to go for Fine Gael (at least they didn't shoot Michael Collins).

Thomas B said...

Tim,

I traditionally voted FF when I was in Ireland - for two reasons. One, as the largest party in the country, they were very much the dominant partner and took a generally pragmatic, lowering taxes approach to the system.

Secondly, the key thing about FF and FG is that their key belief is they should be in power and not the other lot - as a result, they are both inclined to be wagged by their coalition tail - and unlike FF, FG have always had to have the left wing parties such as Labour to form a viable government.

FG are probably slightly more socially liberal than FF, but there isn't a huge amount in it.

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