Left leaning groups and independents in the Dáil have a responsibility to work together in a constructive manner, according to newly elected TDs from the major left-wing parties and the Independent Alliance.
With the only viable formation of a government being a ‘grand coalition’ between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, and 40% of all seats going to Sinn Féin, independents and smaller parties – many who are left-leaning - there appears to be an ideological fault line appearing in Leinster House. However as the dust has settled, and it has become clear there was a major appetite for an alternative to the conservative parties, many have lamented the failure of the lett to coalesce into a formidable single party option for voters.
Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Ruth Coppinger of the AAA-PBP alliance, David Cullinane, newly elected Sinn Féin TD for Waterford, and John Halligan of the Independent Alliance, spoke of the difference and potential alliances among the left in Irish politics.
The Right2Change grouping, formed in opposition to Irish Water, is currently the most coherent pan-party grouping among Irish left-wing politicians, and should provide a platform for future alliances, said Cullinane.
“Sinn Fein have made gains, some of the independents have made gains and then we need to look at those who are not in the Right2Change camp to see how can we work together,” he said.
“And that’s a conversation we’re going to have with all those independents and smaller left parties over the next couple of weeks.”
“There is a responsibility on all parties, including the socialist party, including John Halligan and others like him ... we have to work together.
“I want to see a progressive government,” he added.
Talk of alliances was sidetracked for a moment as Ruth Coppinger spoke of the “disgraceful response” by Sinn Féin to the results in her constituency, where Paul Donnelly – who had been heavily fancied to take a seat – lost out. “The sour grapes have been incredible,” Coppinger said.
Recent electoral conflict aside, Coppinger insisted the only major issues the AAA-PBP alliance have with Sinn Féin is the latter’s refusal to rule any form of alliance with the main parties, and “acceptance of this narrow fiscal space” – with the AAA-PBP advocating the higher taxation of profits of multinational corporations based in Ireland.
A unification between the two civil war parties “would be beneficial to politics in Ireland”, Halligan said. “There’s no discernible difference between the two of them,” he added.
On the left, Halligan says “there’s not many differences between us”.
He and his colleagues in the Independent Alliance “will speak to anybody who wants to try and form an alternative government.
“My preferred option absolutely would be to try and get some sort of coalition with those on the left,” he added.
Coppinger says the AAA-PBP “would talk to Sinn Féin and any parties that were seriously interested in reversing austerity ... but the numbers don’t stack up at the moment for an alternative govt to FF or FG.”
With a handful of seats left to be filled, Fine Gael have 47 and Fianna Fáíl have 43, with an expected 7-8 seats left to come between them, making an overall majority possible with a ‘grand coalition’.
The chances of one looks slim however, with Newstalk Breakfast's Ivan Yates predicting any temporary merger is already dead in the water.
The spectre of a second election looms large, and will remain if if some form of shaky alliance is worked out, but there is an onus on elected TDs to provide stability and form some form of government, Halligan said.
“I think the electorate would take a very dim view, having made a decision ... is some sort of stability could not be put in place.
“The two parties that are bringing the most instability are Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, by refusing to even speak about forming a government.
“You have to go with the will of the people ... irrespective of their views on the formation of the government.
“Within a few months England could exit the Eurozone ... we look at the economy around the world, there is a degree of instability there, we more than ever need a stable government for at least the next year or so.”