Exit polls published by Ipsos MRBI this evening predict a disastrous collapse in support for both the Fine Gael and Labour government parties. In more ordinary times this would be a cause for celebration, but the numbers suggest the perfect storm conditions for the worst of all possible election outcomes for those desperately seeking an end to austerity politics. Given the numbers projected by this exit poll it will be near impossible for Enda Kenny to form a government with Labour alone, and it is unlikely that such will be possible even with the addition of some independents. Neither is this forecast good for the Right2Change coalition. With Sinn Féin reduced to below 15% and the Anti-Austerity Alliance and People Before Profit grouping sitting at around 4% it will be impossible, even with left independents, for them to form a government.
These results could not be better for Micheál Martin’s toxic Fianna Fáil, who – with 23% of the prospective share – will be the king-maker in the next government. Sinn Féin has declared that it will not consider going into a partnership for government unless it is the senior party, and any jumping into bed with the old enemy is completely out of the question for Boyd Barrett and Murphy. As neither Fine Gael nor Fianna Fáil stand a snowball’s chance of forming a government alone, it is looking ever more likely that they will be forced to do it together.
By the looks of things tonight yet another troika looks to be on the Irish political horizon, with Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, and Labour the most likely to agree on a workable majority. In fact these three, if the exit polls are to be trusted, look like the only workable majority without having to undergo the ordeal of negotiations with a sea of opportunistic right-wing independents. The creation of such a government will be Fine Gael’s first ever second consecutive term, Fianna Fáil breakneck recovery, and the final nail in the coffin of Labour’s charade of socialism. None of this makes for comfortable bedtime reading on the left.
Despite almost ten years of the Irish left shouting about Capitalism in Crisis and the Paul Mason in the Guardian spouting garbage about the end of capitalism, it looks like the beast has earned its stripes again. Neoliberalism’s knack at riding out one crisis after another and the complete and utter train crash that is leftist politics on this island have conspired to leave Ireland hopelessly vulnerable to the thieves who reduced us to paupers and the incompetent dullards who have spent the past five long years bleeding us dry. Of course these are only exit polls, but tonight there will be no small number of poor families on their knees begging the heavens for them to be wrong.