Irish voters appear set to deliver a humiliating verdict on the ruling Fianna Fail party in the country’s general election tomorrow.
Opinion polls suggest the centre-right Fine Gael party is still building on its lead and could even be on course to win 80 of the 166 seats in the Dail, raising the prospect of a minority government with the support of independents.
The latest survey shows Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny to be one of the few beneficiaries of Ireland’s spectacular banking collapse over the past three years.
An equally strong, if not stronger possibility according to the polls is a coalition with the Labour Party – and that has raised the prospect of some tough negotiating with Brussels over the terms of Ireland’s EU financial rescue package.
Fianna Fail has dominated Irish politics for the best part of 90 years. But they were at the helm when the boom times of Ireland’s ‘Celtic Tiger’ economy collapsed, forcing them to go cap in hand for financial help. Tomorrow they will likely pay the price.
The nationalist. left-wing Sinn Fein party looks set to remain very much in the minority, having promised to walk away from the EU-IMF bailout completely.
But many of its sentiments are shared by the front runners.
“We want to stop the madness which is about putting the state further into debt and burdening working people, increasing unemployment and increasing emigration” said Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams. “What’s needed is for people to come out on Friday and make a stand.”
The question many pollsters are asking about the outgoing Fianna Fail is not if it will be a record low result, but by how many seats.