Could Canada 1993 be a pointer to Fianna Fáil’s fate?
31 October, 2009
Could it happen? Could Fianna Fáil be about to disappear as the dominant political party, and fade into obscurity? We have seen such transformations before: the political scene in our closest neighbour was once dominated by the Liberal Party, but they declined rapidly into a marginal electoral force in the early decades of the last century.
However, one doesn’t have to go so far back to find a precedent for a political party collapsing almost overnight. The story of the 1993 Canadian federal election should be enough to give Fianna Fáil loyalists nightmares.
This election was an unmitigated disaster for Canada’s governing party, the Progressive Conservatives. Their overall vote dropped from 43% to 16%, and they lost all but two of the 151 seats they held when parliament was dissolved.
The reasons quoted for the fall of the Progressive Conservative party in the 1993 election sound eerily familiar to Ireland :
- Canada was suffering a deep recession;
- unemployment had risen to disturbing levels;
- the government faced high and persistent budget deficits;
- the Government had introduced a much-hated new tax, the Goods and Services Tax (carbon tax anybody??)
- the electorate was alienated by government corruption and mismanagement
For Ireland 2009, all these boxes are ticked. Add to that issues like NAMA, various tribunals, incompetent ministers, and generally a Government that seems incapable of taking a decision or a leadership position.
OK, so Fianna Fáil has the advantage of a strong grass-roots organisation, and a Mafia-like loyalty on the part of many members and supporters, so the parallels can’t be stretched too far.
But although it may not be likely, I see it as a possibility. Interesting times….