20 January 2020
We can’t think of another western democracy where the two main parties are in such common accord. Both the governing Fine Gael and the opposition Fianna Fáil identify as ‘centre-right’, although, especially under Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Fine Gael has swung further to the economic right. But it is also more socially liberal. A widely unpopular government’s strong embrace of neoliberalism has meant a widening rich-poor gap that has brought its weakest cards into the centre of the campaign — healthcare, housing and education. These domestic issues appear to be of overall greater voter concern than the strong economy, and Varadkar’s successful handling of Brexit — except among the party’s predominantly urban middle class supporters. Fianna Fáil, despite its wider social base, isn’t exactly igniting the electorate either.
In becoming the junior partner in the Fine Gael government of 2011, the Labour Party has never regained its credibility. Although the Greens similarly hopped into bed with the Fianna Fáil government of 2016, they look like a less compromised party of stronger convictions, especially on climate issues. Further left, the Social Democrats and Solidarity/People Before Profits have their sights on disenchanted Labourites, and the considerable number of younger voters who are scornful of the Tweedledum and Tweedledee carousel.
Neither main party looks likely to win an outright majority, with some commentators even speculating on the extraordinary prospect of Micheál Martin’s Fianna Fáil forming a coalition with Sinn Fein. There’s an enormous number of independents in the mix too — many of them of considerable popularity. This election promises more surprises than Ireland is used to.
Our chart has been compiled with reference to speeches, manifestos and, where applicable, voting records. Should significant policy changes be announced during the campaign, the chart will be updated accordingly.
We regret that the volume of emails that we’re presently receiving prevents us from replying in most cases. All correspondence, however, is carefully read.