Wednesday 21 May 2014

The Allies

Euradvice from a trusted source III (see I, see II)
Euro-elections are almost upon us. In Ireland we have two big parties and a clatter of smaller ones. Fianna Fáil is the natural party of government for the last two generations having furnished almost all the Presidents and the majority of the taoisigh (PMs). The other side of the Dáil tends to be filled with Fine Gael. The parties arose from the ashes of our Civil War - FF being anti-treaty 32-county purists and FG the pragmatic partitionistas.  My pal Kevin Byrne reckons these allegiances go back much further than 100 years.  But in the politics of today you can't slip a sheet of paper between them as far as their centre-right, Christian Democrat policies are concerned.  In the local elections, which are running simultaneously with the European hustings, the parties at county level are the same as those on the national stage: Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Labour, Sinn Féin, a scattering of Greens and a ludicrous number of independents (currently polling as Ireland's largest party).

In Europe it must work differently, you can't expect a bunch of Slovaks or eSpanish to create a party called Vojaci Osudu or Soldados del Destino just because that's how we (inaccurately) translate Fianna Fáil into English.  FF is likely to return 3-4 MEPs to Strasbourg, but they'd be barely visible pixels in a colorful sea of 766 representatives and so couldn't effectively do anything in Brussels about the potholes at the end of our lane.  Accordingly, the national parties form alliances to form Europarties which, if they vote together, can achieve whatever it is that politicians want to achieve apart from their continuance in office.  FF is enpacted with ALDE, the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe and I daresay they are happily in bed with British LibDems, for example.  Fine Gael, for all their identity of policy and aspiration, must be in a different grouping, so have joined EPP the European Peoples Party and are snuggling up with Germans of the CDU persuasion. FF would be quite a lot happier with other Christian Democrats except those buggers from FG, of course. If this reminds you of the People's Front of Judea, it must be the way I tell it.

Just the other side of the centre we have Sinn Féin who are allied with "European United Left/Nordic Green Left" which you might imagine would piss off the genuine Irish Greens except that they have thrown in their lot with The Greens/European Free Alliance which is a wholly different shade of green, but looks exactly the same to people of any other colour. The GUE/NGL, as well as a clatter of old-style Reds and Socialists, includes one chap from Denmark representing Folkebevægelsen mod EU, the People's Movement Against the EU. Presumably this Folkluftfartsselskab Rina Ronja Kari is swimming manfully against the tide in Brussels on her basic salary of €84,000 a year excluding expenses. The Labour Party is affiliated with PES aka Páirtí na Sóisialaithe Eorpach or Partia Europejskich Socjalistów or Parti socialiste européen - you get the idea.  But it is now vanishingly unlikely that the Irish Labour Party even nearer the Centre than Sinn Féin will get any MEPs over the line this time.

Qs for SF canvassers: do you see yourselves as brokering a more Solidarność agreement between Saskaņas Centrs in Latvia and Συνασπισμός Ριζοσπαστικής Αριστεράς in  Greece?

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