Some comments on the May 24 election results

This is a brief thing I wrote for the most recent issue of Poblacht na nOibrithe, the bulletin of Clann éirígí.  I didn’t think of putting it up here until just now:

The May 24 elections saw a massive surge of support for Sinn Fein in the south, while the party held its support in the north. It’s clear that the surge in the south came largely at the expense of the Labour Party and, to a lesser extent, of Fianna Fail. These two capitalist parties were punished by southern voters for their roles in the vicious attacks on workers since the collapse of the ‘Celtic Tiger’.

Moreover, Sinn Fein is now the dominant party in Dublin, as revealed at council level and Euro seat level. The Shinners hold 16 seats in Dublin, compared to 9 for Fianna Fail and 8 each for Fine Gael and Labour. Across the 26-county state, SF took 157 seats (up 103) to Labour’s 51 (down 81). The Shinners’ biggest achievement was, interestingly, in the Euro poll where they were not far behind Fianna Fail and Fine Gael. Labour lost all its Euro seats and won only 88,000 votes, while the Shinners took 3 seats (just one behind Fine Gael) and 323,000 votes (Fianna Fail won 400 more votes than Fine Gael but came out of it with only one seat).

Left of Labour constituency

Of course, there has always been a left-of-Labour constituency, but it has not been this large since the early 1920s. There are three reasons why Sinn Fein has been able to capitalise on disillusion with Labour. One is that they were the largest force to the (sort of) left of Labour, another is that Fianna Fail is also discredited so Labour votes didn’t drift back there, and the third is that the working class in the south is republican (with a small ‘r’). The republicanism of the southern working class, no matter how diluted over the almost 90 years since partition, always limited the appeal of left parties like the Workers Party and the more recent Trotskyist-oriented parties.

The success of Sinn Fein in the south can be expected to continue – at least until people experience them in office. The Shinners’ success will set them up to be in coalition after the next general election in the south. After that the disillusion will start.

Managing capitalism, managing partition

As we’ve seen in the north, Sinn Fein is now utterly committed to managing capitalism, a system based on exploitation and oppression. And, in the Irish case, on the partition of the island. The ruling elites here and in Britain have no interest in a united Ireland so, as SF continues to attempt to ingratiate itself with them, it will have to move further backwards on the national question too.

Moreover, the very success of Sinn Fein means they will attract more and more chancers and opportunists. Whatever is left of their old politics – and it’s very, very little in any meaningful sense, will be diluted by its expanded membership which is not committed to republican, let alone socialist, principles.




Posted on July 3, 2014, in 21st century republicanism and socialism, Economy and workers' resistance, Irish politics today, Provos - then and now, Public sector/cuts. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Some comments on the May 24 election results.

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