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Sinn Fein’s ‘Revolution’ at Ballot Box Rocks Irish Establishment

Sinn Fein’s ‘Revolution’ at Ballot Box Rocks Irish Establishment(Bloomberg) — Ireland underwent a revolution at the ballot box, according to Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald, and she’s one of the biggest winners.Long an outsider because of its links to the IRA and left-wing policies, the nationalists could feature in coalition talks after they challenged the traditional Irish parties of government, Fine Gael and Fianna Fail, for first place in Saturday’s election. Counting continues and a final result is expected late Monday.“The election proved to be seismic, historic,” McDonald, a 50-year-old Dublin native, said in an RTE interview. “The two-party system is dispatched to the history books. It’s clear people want change.”Talks on government formation will likely begin in the middle of the week, with attention focusing on the role Sinn Fein might play. Fianna Fail and Fine Gael have long excluded the party from government, arguing Sinn Fein’s mix of nationalism and populism made them unsuitable for office. The grounds may be shifting, though, with Fianna Fail’s Micheal Martin accepting his “obligation” to find a functioning government.“Investors will be wary because a role for Sinn Fein in government can’t be ruled out,” said Dermot O’Leary, chief economist at Goodbody Stockbrokers in Dublin. “With the rise of Sinn Fein, we are looking at a period of uncertainty around policy direction. It seems clear two of the three biggest parties will be needed to form a government.”Flags and SongsState broadcaster RTE projected late Sunday that Fianna Fail would win 45 seats, Sinn Fein 37 seats, and Prime Minister Leo Varadkar’s Fine Gael 36 seats — all short of the 80 needed for a majority.Sinn Fein, which won 23 seats in 2016, only fielded 42 candidates in the election.At count centers across the country, the party’s supporters waved Irish flags, wore green jerseys and occasionally broke into song, celebrating the Irish Republican Army’s fight against British rule, as it took seat after seat.Basking in her party’s surge, McDonald said it’s time to ramp up preparations for a referendum on Irish unity, though ultimately only London can call a border poll.Sinn Fein won 25% of the first preference vote, as it capitalized on voter discontent with a housing shortage and an ailing health service.In the 2016 election, the party won 14%, doubling its 2007 vote. It won its first seat a decade earlier. Rooted in the cause of Irish unity, the party began to seriously contest elections in the 1980s as part of a strategy known as the “Armalite and the Ballot Box.”Wealth TaxThe electoral math of a fragmented system means Sinn Fein is unlikely to lead the next government, but its rise speaks to the shifting tectonic plates that are upending traditional power structures across Europe.“Certainly, red lines on coalitions will have to be crossed,” according to Eoin O’Malley, a politics professor at Dublin City University. “Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein are the only really viable and likely government. It’ll be a long negotiation, with a lot of people having to look into their hearts.”Before the election, Fine Gael and Fianna Fail both ruled out governing with Sinn Fein. By Sunday, Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin was less categorical, though he pointed to “significant incompatibility” with Sinn Fein. Varakdar continued to rule out a “forced marriage” with Sinn Fein.In an election shaped by a demand for change, Sinn Fein offered the most radical options, including:a 1% tax on net wealth of more than 1 million euros ($1.1 million)freezing residential rentsthe biggest public housing program in decadeslowering the retirement ageBrexit BackdropThe Brexit saga may also have played into Sinn Fein’s hands, by stoking anti-British sentiment amid fears that the U.K. departure from the European Union could see the return of checkpoints along the border with Northern Ireland.As of 11:15 p.m. in Dublin on Sunday, Sinn Fein had tallied 29 lawmakers, compared to a combined 18 for Fine Gael and Fianna Fail, though that picture will change considerably through Monday.Sinn Fein may be tapping into “a latent republican sentiment, also fueled by the long Brexit saga,” said Diarmaid Ferriter, professor of history at University College Dublin. But mainly, the party is “a lightning rod for the discontent out there, for the things that people feel are wrong about their lives.”But he cautioned against assuming Ireland is set to move toward a European-style left-versus-right divide, pointing to the Labour Party’s decline from 20% in the 2011 election to about 5% in 2020.“We have seen parties like Labour rise before, and then fade away fairly quickly,” he said. “So we need to wait and see.”To contact the reporters on this story: Dara Doyle in Dublin at ddoyle1@bloomberg.net;Peter Flanagan in Dublin at pflanagan23@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Chad Thomas at cthomas16@bloomberg.net, Andrew Davis, Tony CzuczkaFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

(Bloomberg) — Ireland underwent a revolution at the ballot box, according to Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald, and she’s one of the biggest winners.Long an outsider because of its links to the IRA and left-wing policies, the nationalists could feature in coalition talks after they challenged the traditional Irish parties of government, Fine Gael and Fianna Fail, for first place in Saturday’s election. Counting continues and a final result is expected late Monday.“The election proved to be seismic, historic,” McDonald, a 50-year-old Dublin native, said in an RTE interview. “The two-party system is dispatched to the history books. It’s clear people want change.”Talks on government formation will likely begin in the middle of the week, with attention focusing on the role Sinn Fein might play. Fianna Fail and Fine Gael have long excluded the party from government, arguing Sinn Fein’s mix of nationalism and populism made them unsuitable for office. The grounds may be shifting, though, with Fianna Fail’s Micheal Martin accepting his “obligation” to find a functioning government.“Investors will be wary because a role for Sinn Fein in government can’t be ruled out,” said Dermot O’Leary, chief economist at Goodbody Stockbrokers in Dublin. “With the rise of Sinn Fein, we are looking at a period of uncertainty around policy direction. It seems clear two of the three biggest parties will be needed to form a government.”Flags and SongsState broadcaster RTE projected late Sunday that Fianna Fail would win 45 seats, Sinn Fein 37 seats, and Prime Minister Leo Varadkar’s Fine Gael 36 seats — all short of the 80 needed for a majority.Sinn Fein, which won 23 seats in 2016, only fielded 42 candidates in the election.At count centers across the country, the party’s supporters waved Irish flags, wore green jerseys and occasionally broke into song, celebrating the Irish Republican Army’s fight against British rule, as it took seat after seat.Basking in her party’s surge, McDonald said it’s time to ramp up preparations for a referendum on Irish unity, though ultimately only London can call a border poll.Sinn Fein won 25% of the first preference vote, as it capitalized on voter discontent with a housing shortage and an ailing health service.In the 2016 election, the party won 14%, doubling its 2007 vote. It won its first seat a decade earlier. Rooted in the cause of Irish unity, the party began to seriously contest elections in the 1980s as part of a strategy known as the “Armalite and the Ballot Box.”Wealth TaxThe electoral math of a fragmented system means Sinn Fein is unlikely to lead the next government, but its rise speaks to the shifting tectonic plates that are upending traditional power structures across Europe.“Certainly, red lines on coalitions will have to be crossed,” according to Eoin O’Malley, a politics professor at Dublin City University. “Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein are the only really viable and likely government. It’ll be a long negotiation, with a lot of people having to look into their hearts.”Before the election, Fine Gael and Fianna Fail both ruled out governing with Sinn Fein. By Sunday, Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin was less categorical, though he pointed to “significant incompatibility” with Sinn Fein. Varakdar continued to rule out a “forced marriage” with Sinn Fein.In an election shaped by a demand for change, Sinn Fein offered the most radical options, including:a 1% tax on net wealth of more than 1 million euros ($1.1 million)freezing residential rentsthe biggest public housing program in decadeslowering the retirement ageBrexit BackdropThe Brexit saga may also have played into Sinn Fein’s hands, by stoking anti-British sentiment amid fears that the U.K. departure from the European Union could see the return of checkpoints along the border with Northern Ireland.As of 11:15 p.m. in Dublin on Sunday, Sinn Fein had tallied 29 lawmakers, compared to a combined 18 for Fine Gael and Fianna Fail, though that picture will change considerably through Monday.Sinn Fein may be tapping into “a latent republican sentiment, also fueled by the long Brexit saga,” said Diarmaid Ferriter, professor of history at University College Dublin. But mainly, the party is “a lightning rod for the discontent out there, for the things that people feel are wrong about their lives.”But he cautioned against assuming Ireland is set to move toward a European-style left-versus-right divide, pointing to the Labour Party’s decline from 20% in the 2011 election to about 5% in 2020.“We have seen parties like Labour rise before, and then fade away fairly quickly,” he said. “So we need to wait and see.”To contact the reporters on this story: Dara Doyle in Dublin at ddoyle1@bloomberg.net;Peter Flanagan in Dublin at pflanagan23@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Chad Thomas at cthomas16@bloomberg.net, Andrew Davis, Tony CzuczkaFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.Read More

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