Well if we look at the various combinations of coalitions.
Fianna Fail/PDs 36%
. Fine Gael/Labour 38%
Fianna Fail/Labour 45%
Fine Gael/Labour/Green 44%
Fine Gael/Labour/PD 42%
Fianna Fail/Sinn Fein 42%
Fine Gael/Labour/Sinn Fein 48%
Fianna Fail/Green 38%
So which combination will be in power in 2007.
In the current climate of post-Rip off Republic Ireland the obvious choice would be the opposition. However the opposition seems unable to capture the publics’ imagination. The government is in a torrid situation. With confidence dropping with no sign of picking up from the local Election defeats it looks like the government have lost the support of the people. But are the opposition capitalising on this.
The answer in my opinion is no. Since the election and this poll the government has lost 10% of the vote. While the opposition collation of Fine Gael Labour have only gained 4%. With the levels of disenchantment with the government this gain is not good enough. This gain is merely due to the fact that they are the opposition and if you don’t vote Fianna Fail you have to vote someone else. The Fianna Fail 10% loss is spread fairly across the entire opposition. Fine Gael and Labour or not giving a via alternative to draw disenchanted voters away from Fianna Fail an exercise one could equate to shooting fish in a barrel but Enda Kenny and co One of the main parties that is drawing votes away is the green party. Even though they are 6% this 6% would be very concentrated in the urban centres. There vote is probably the most concentrated of any of the parties.This can be seen in the election results where they hold 6 seats to the PDs 8. So this could mean they will get less then 6% of the seats.
This can be touted as good for a Fine Gael /Labour /Green party coalition. But the green party still has not explicitly stated that they will form a coalition with Fine Gael and Labour. Also Labours key support is in Dublin City this is the place they wish to make the main gains in the next election. However they are going to be in direct competition for many of the same voters as the green party. So instead of creating a larger combination of voters Labour and the green party might just create a in fight between the parties splitting their vote and letting Fianna Fail PD’s and Sinn Fein sneak up the middle and take marginal seats in Dublin.
So it looks like if the present situation continues of ineffective opposition and ineffective government we could be heading to a hung Dail where Fine Gael/Labour/Green Party wouldn’t hold the 84 seats need to be stably in power. So are there any other options.
The PD’s have already signalled that the are willing to join with a non-Fianna Fail Party . Also with the poll showing no change in the PD vote it seems that if they don’t mess up and Michael McDowell keeping PD’s credibility high it is likely they might come out of the election with little change in their mandate with some seats lost and others gained. However will they have enough seats to make or break a government it is not clear. The likelihood of a Fine Gael/Labour/PDs coalition is possible but if the Greens and the PDs have the same amount of seats the greens could be preferred choice of Labour and Fine Gael.
Sinn Fein it seems would hold the balance of power. But will any party do into power with them. True the decommission process could be finished but will this change the majority peoples opinion that they shouldn’t be government. Time will only tell. This is particular situation is difficult to predict as it will be very dependent on the unpredictable Northern Peace process. However the most likely party they will join with would be Fianna Fail as they share similar ideologies. This coalition however would not include the PD’s and it is difficult to see any other third party joining this coalition. This coalition might require one or two independents to survive. However Sinn Fein crave power in the South and if they can work with the DUP in a government they will surely be willing to work with Fine Gael. The question is will Fine Gael be willing to work with them. If it is the difference between power and opposition then they may well sign up with Sinn Fein. But if cases such as Robert McCartney and Joesph Rafferty keep popping linking Sinn Fein with crime it might make Sinn Fein in government a non-runner even if they hold the balance of power
The most stable coalition is Labour and Fianna Fail even though Pat Rabbitee has nailed his colours to the Fine Gael mast. There are others in the party that would be willing to form a collation with Fianna Fail. Whether Pat Rabbitee would still be head of the party in this Scenario will probably depend on Labours performance in the election. If they cannot vastly increase there seats then Pat Rabbitee could be out and Brendan Howelin into a Fianna Fail Coalition. Personal this seems the most likely coalition with a stable workable majority. Weather this collation would also contain the PDs is dependent on the amount of seats Labour / Fianna Fail have. There are holes appearing in this coalition relationship over such things as café bars. So unless they are needed I can’t see Fianna Fail keeping the PD’s.
But one thing that could tilt the voters back towards Fianna Fail is the maturing of the SSIA's. THis is predicted to pour €14 billion into the economy. This is going to boost the econmic outlook of the country and with people having money to spend at this point in time they might feel that the Rip offs were a thing of the past and vote Fianna Fail back in on a tyed of satisfaction. This could be the factor that decided the election if it is close.
So at this point of time who will form the government. It looks like we are heading for a hung Dail and the name of the next Taoiseach being difficult to predict. But one thing that seems likely at the moment is that if Fine Gael end up in power. It will be because Fianna Fail lost it rather then Fine Gael/Labour winning it.But with a year and a half left until the election. Anything can happen.