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Date of the general election

I was in self-imposed exile from the blog while finishing my thesis (on transfers in Irish elections). There were certainly issues and events during that time that I would have blogged on, but at best I might refer to them at a later time.

But one small thing I had in mind was on the date of the general election, prompted by yesterday’s opinion pieces in the Times. Garret FitzGerald predicted that the government would end before the 2012 budget, as that budget would be much more difficult again and the government parties would rather let the incoming government deal with that. So before October 2011, and then most likely in the summer. They wouldn’t really plan to have it in the autumn, given how the weather turns this time of year.

But I think the subject of Noel Whelan’s broad piece on the presidency is more of a reason. It would make sense to have the election people are really itching for before the one that should be above party politics. Fianna Fáil would probably like to give their candidate a fighting chance, which would be difficult if they’re still in government. That would, of course, depend on the candidates, but without that knowledge yet, they will probably keep this in mind.

And this coming summer would be respectable. In the span of Irish governments since 1923, it has not been at all unusual for them to last four years. Between 1957 and 1981, elections were called at four-year intervals. Fianna Fáil and the Greens could just decide to part amicably and call it a day in June. Either that or the Greens use an issue like the lack of a ban on corporate and union donations to parties to go (was that put into the programme for government for that reason alone) or after the bye-elections tilt things further against them, as Seán Lemass did in 1965, calling the general election as soon as the Cork Mid bye-election returned Labour’s Eileen Desmond.

So my money would be on May 2011.

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