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Voting: Moment Of Truth In Ireland

  • February 25th, 2011
  • Posted by EUEditor

dublin1.jpegThe moment has arrived with elections this Friday (25.2.11) for Irish voters to rule on the financial shenanigans of the last few decades, leading to widespread economic ruin today.

Hard times with the drying up of jobs, and credit, and a humiliating intervention from large financial powers outside of the country, has brought predictable fear and resentment in the electorate.

The vote was called in January, after the minority Green Party split from a governing coalition with the dominant force of recent times, Fianna Fail.

The reason was a demand for stability in government, in the face of  heavy state indebtedness, flowing from the global financial crisis of 2008.

The European Union and the International Monetary Fund had intervened, in November, to provide debt relief on a condition of stringent financial management.

The Fianna Fail party in government had side-stepped financial scandals touching its top leadership of the 1980s, to follow a zealously laissez-fair economic line.

ireland-sept-29-21.jpgA period of heavy speculation in the building industry, in particular, fuelled by cheap money, and dizzying general levels of spending, ended suddenly in 2008 – the down-turn made worse by a decision of government to guarantee enormous bad debts acquired by banks.

The debt was unaffordable for the real economy of Ireland, this year running at 10% of Gross Domestic Product.

The squeeze that set in has brought 13.5% unemployment and even a return to a hurtful old remedy for economic pain in Ireland, a growing emigration of citizens, to other parts of the EU, and even to far-away Australia or the United States.

Optimism and a long run of prosperity, (relatively poor Ireland benefitting from assistance within the EU, and its own adaptability to the new economy, founded on knowledge), gave way to gross dissatisfaction and going around short of a Euro.

With the real poll about to start, all indications were for change: the lead Opposition party Fine Gael looked strong on 40% in the voter intention surveys; the Labour Party at 18%; a black outlook for Fianna Fail, with perhaps 15%, ahead of the Sinn Fein all-Ireland nationalists at 10%.

See also, EUAustralia Online: “Clearing the air: elections in Ireland”, 22.1.11; “Irish money, EU budget in doubt”, 18.11.10; “Economy: Ireland confronts the cost”, 1.10.10.

Pictures

River Liffey, Dublin protest.

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