The long-dominant party of Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen has been routed by voters casting their ballots in local and European elections and two parliamentary by elections.
Ireland’s economy has been in freefall and Cowen’s government had been blamed for not getting to grips with the issue. Voters have deserted his Fianna Fail party in their thousands. Cowen knew he was in trouble politically as the results poured in. He said: “It’s fair to say that we’ve had a disappointing result, a poor result by our standards, and I think we all knew going in to this campaign ..it was going to be a tough campaign, given where we are in the economy and the very tough decisions that the government had to take. so we’re realistic enough to know that it was the case”. Fianna Fail has dominated Irish politics since the 1930s but public anger over monetary policies has changed the political landscape. Enda Kenny, Fina Gael leader said: “ Well the Taoiseach (Irish prime minister) may think that he can ignore the power of the message of the people yesterday ..i don’t believe this government can and from that point of view i believe that the results today will bring a general election closer and I welcome that.” Meanwhile Declan Ganley – a leading opponent of the European Union’s reform treaty is in the running for a seat in the European Parliament. If he wins he will take a lead role in trying to defeat the Lisbon Treaty in a second poll later this year.