Monday, March 7, 2011

Habemus Taoiseach

It should come as no surprise to people that both Fine Gael and Labour have accepted the draft programme for government and that the parties will now elect Enda Kenny as Taoiseach on Wednesday when the 31st Dáil assembles. Once the dust settled at the count centres on Saturday week last this was the inevitable result. The negotiations between the parties may have been difficult but there was no doubt that a joint platform would be agreed.

The real question is whether it is a blue document with red input or vice-versa. Both sides, at their respective ratification events yesterday, claimed that the Programme for Government was implementing the majority of their election manifesto. Considering the acrimonious campaigning between FG and Lab in the run up to the election it seems surprising that both manifestos can be equally accommodated in the agreed PfG.

While obviously the document is a compromise from both sides here are a few of the key items I am disappointed in
  • Healthcare - although claimed as a Labour victory, having competing, for-profit insurers is the key difference between the parties. Not happy with that at all.
  • Water Charges - like bin charges, this will start off with the promise of more than enough for everyone and waivers for the poor but will slowly be eroded over time to raise additional revenue.
  • Reform - the headlong charge into reform continues without actually describing the problems and what we want to solve. Solutions without definition usually cause more problems in the end.
  • Sale of State Assets - I guess it comes down to what is deemed strategic, but I do worry about the privatization agenda.

While I voted against accepting the document, I am happy to give both sides the benefit of the doubt for the moment. Let's see what happens over the next few months as the parties settle themselves down to putting the country back on track.

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