Monday, January 24, 2011

Confidence versus Finance

I've been abroad for a few days and have missed out on so much politics it's not funny. Between Brian Cowen resigning and then the Greens leaving government I should vow to never leave the country again. Then again, if my absence in any small way helped bring about these events I would have no problem in spending another extended weekend in Paris. (This might be a case of the correlation does not imply causation fallacy.)

The big thing this evening is the agreed timetable for the finance bill and an early election, now probably 25th February. This comes at the expense of Labour giving up on their motion of no confidence and all other Dáil business being suspended so the bill will be sent to the Seanad on Friday. Any amendments from the upper house will be passed either in an emergency Dáil session on Saturday or else first thing on Tuesday week before Cowen finally heads up to the Áras to dissolve the Dáil and officially start the election race.

It is important to note that while Fine Gael and Labour are agreeing to this timetable, neither party will be voting in favour of the provisions of the bill. This role will strictly be reserved for the Greens and the pair of independent TDs along with the remains of Fianna Fáil. If the motion of no confidence was debated tomorrow and Wednesday, it would be defeated as the Greens have said they want the finance bill passed. This would drag out the life of the Dáil for another few weeks up, on the 11th March election date timetable.

Nothing in the finance bill cannot be reversed or modified by the incoming government. In my view this compromise is better than another few weeks of farce in the Dáil allowing Fianna Fáil's new leader to settle in and get up a head of steam before the election. This timescale brings about an election as soon as possible and while it does leave a bit of a nasty taste to have this finance bill passed, the alternative is far, far worse.

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