Tuesday

20th Nov 2018

Economy dominates Ireland election campaign

The first official day of campaigning in Ireland gets under way on Thursday (4 February), as the country heads to the polls on 26 February following its bounce-back from the economic crisis and international bailout.

Prime minister Enda Kenny is expected to win an unprecedented second term for his center-right Fine Gael party, even though polls suggest he's losing some ground.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Campaigning gets under way in Ireland, with PM Kenny seeking a second 5-year term (Photo: eu2013.ie)

Kenny’s coalition partners, the Labour party, reprimanded by voters for not standing up for workers’ rights stronger during bailout-imposed austerity measures, are lagging behind.

The latest Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll show Fine Gael on 28 percent, down two points since the last poll at the end of November, and Labour on 7 percent.

The opposition Fianna Fail, once Ireland’s largest party is on 21 percent. Sinn Fein, associated with the old Irish Republican Army, is on 19 percent. Independents, Greens, and anti-austerity parties are on 25 percent combined.

A large chunk of Irish voters have turned to anti-establishment, anti-austerity parties, but not to the same extent as in other bailed-out EU states, such as Greece or Spain.

One possible scenario is that Fine Gael will form a minority government with the support of independent MPs.

The economy, stupid!

The campaign will be dominated by the economy, with Kenny saying he needs to steer Ireland through its recovery after the financial implosion in 2010.

“Five years ago, Ireland was on the verge of collapse,” Kenny said in a video appeal to voters on Wednesday. But now, he added: “there is no more troika [EU financial supervisors], no more bailout, no more dead banks.”

Speaking to press Wednesday, Kenny also promised that if he is re-elected there would be “no more boom or bust, no more reckless waste of taxpayers’ money and no more staggering from fiscal crisis to fiscal crisis”.

Ireland is now growing at the fastest rate in the eurozone, with a 7 percent or so GDP increase last year, and unemployment on 9 percent - a figure helped by the fact many Irish people emigrated to find work.

Ireland earned the nickname the Celtic Tiger in the boom years of the early 2000s.

Its recently earned another name, the Celtic Phoenix, when its 10-year bond yields fell to 0.97 percent from 14.2 percent at the peak of the crisis in 2011.

Kenny’s government exited the bailout in 2013 and repaid loans early to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which participated in the EU rescue package.

But many voters remain disillusioned after years of belt-tightening and bank bailouts.

Ireland formally applied for a €67 billion loan funded by the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the IMF 2010.

Many voters feel the country was bullied into the deal, and that the pain of EU and IMF compliance was unevenly shared in society, with banks and senior bondholders shielded from losses while ordinary people suffered.

Letter shows ECB threat ahead of Ireland bailout

The ECB on Thursday formally made public a letter showing that the eurozone bank threatened to pull emergency bank funding if Ireland did not enter a bailout and undertake austerity measures in 2010.

Ireland goes to polls amid post-crisis uncertainty

The Irish will vote on Friday in their first general election since completing the international bailout programme. Amid doubts about the true state of Irish society, the result is too hard to call.

Stakeholder

Social Europe on the Horizon

The European Union is facing the crisis of its life. The economic crisis, the nationalist response to it, the euro crisis and the lack of solidarity shown towards refugees have brought the very spirit of Europe into question.

Asylum for Macedonia's ex-PM puts Orban on spot

Authorities in Budapest confirmed the former prime minister of Macedonia, fleeing a jail sentence in his own country, has filed for asylum. Despite Hungary's strict asylum laws, the pro-Kremlin politician was not turned away.

News in Brief

  1. Hungary grants asylum to ex-Macedonia PM
  2. UK court rules against government in Article 50 case
  3. May to meet Juncker on Wednesday to finalise Brexit deal
  4. Future of EU's Mediterranean naval mission in doubt
  5. EU budget talks for 2019 collapse
  6. EU mulls new Russia sanctions over Ukraine 'elections'
  7. EU farm chief 'confident' sugar prices will recover
  8. Researcher: EU expert groups still imbalanced and opaque

Opinion

On Armistice Day, EU is still best gift we can give our children

While young people fought each other in 1918, young people in 2018 travel to study together under the Erasmus programme. But there is a risk of limiting our commemoration to representing the past through just speeches, museum exhibits and visits.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. Boycott threats mount on eve of Interpol election
  2. EU parliament to renege on transparency promises
  3. Cyprus and Greece to create EU spy academy
  4. MEPs likely to delay vote on greater transparency
  5. Cold shoulder for Franco-German euro budget plan
  6. Whistleblower: Danske Bank gag stops me telling more
  7. Spain raises Gibraltar, as EU and UK talk post-2020 relationship
  8. Panic is not answer to EU's security challenges

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us