Nationalism continues to spread across Europe as more nationalistic and identitarian type parties are politically asserting themselves. Ireland is no exception, and according to recent news from the tiny island nation, the veritable political extension of the Irish Republican Army, the Sinn Fein faction, has make significant political victories in Ireland and is set to create a government.
Irish nationalists Sinn Fein demanded on Sunday (9 February) to be part of the next Irish government after early results indicated the left-wing party secured the most votes in an election that leader Mary Lou McDonald described as a ballot box “revolution”.
The former political wing of the Irish Republican Army, which has recast itself as the main left-wing party, secured 24% of first-preference votes, almost doubling its share from the last election in 2016, early results showed.
That put it narrowly ahead of the party of Prime Minister Leo Varadkar and fellow centre-right rival Fianna Fail in an election analysts described as a seismic shift away from Ireland’s century-old, centre-right duopoly.
But Sinn Fein is likely to fall behind at least one of its rivals in terms of seat numbers because it stood far fewer candidates and is unlikely to be more than a junior partner in a government.
“This is certainly an election that is historic… this is changing the shape and the mould of Irish politics. This is just the beginning,” McDonald told reporters after arriving at her election count to a huge ovation from party supporters.
She said Sinn Fein would talk to all parties about forming a government and that others should accept their responsibility to do the same.
“I do not accept the exclusion or talk of excluding our party, a party that represents now a quarter of the electorate and I think that is fundamentally undemocratic,” she said.
Fine Gael and Fianna Fail, who have between them led every government since the foundation of the state, ruled out a coalition with Sinn Fein before the election.
But although Varadkar reiterated his rejection due to “principle and policy”, Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin declined to repeat earlier refusals to consider a coalition with Sinn Fein, saying only that there were significant incompatibilities on policy.
“Our policies and our principles have not changed overnight,” he said. “But what is important is that the country comes first.” (source)