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Thread: Was it the Bertie factor that won the 1997 election for Fianna Fail?

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    Politics.ie Member RahenyFG's Avatar
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    Default Was it the Bertie factor that won the 1997 election for Fianna Fail?

    Looking back on the 1997 election when the incumbent Rainbow coalition of Fine Gael, Labour and Democratic Left went into that election with the strong record of economic growth, a budget surplus for the first time in 30 years as well as growing employment figures. How did they lose? was it Bertie Ahern being leader of Fianna Fail. A highly popular leader whose personality was possibly more key than the party to explain the defeat of the Rainbow coalition?

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    Just off the top of my head - as I was only 13 at the time, but I feel that the turnaround on the Spring Tide saw the major reduction in the Coalition's seat numbers with a serious loss of seats. Fine Gael I believe actually increased their seats in the Dail to a small degree.
    Would feel that the media perforances of Bertie against Bruton would have been a major factor alright. And a lot of the anti Fianna Fail hatred (amongst swing voters/FF leaning) at the 92 election had sufficiently abated as well.

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    Politics.ie Member RahenyFG's Avatar
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    Bruton actually came out top of Bertie in the leaders debate in the pre-election build up. The reversal of the Spring Tide is another factor. It's interesting to note tho that the voters didn't necessarily come back to Fianna Fail after the anti-Fianna Fail feeling in 1992. Their vote share was virtually the same in 1997 to what it was in 1992. A better distribution of votes nationwide probably explains the increase in their seat total without a vote share increase, that's the bizarre nature of the Single Transferable Vote system.

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    In 1997 Ahern wasn't tainted by the shadow of corruption that had dogged both CJH and Albert Reynolds. He was also a Dubliner, which helped in many of the Dublin constituencies. However he hadn't been an especially good leader of the opposition. The fact that Labour had promised changed in 1992 and ended up putting FF back in power, saw their vote collapse and every other party benefitted, bar the PDs, who had their own problems.
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    Bertie lost the 97 and 02 debates, but it made no odds. The big mistake was Dick Spring pushing Bruton for a may election, to try and capitolise on the CJH scandal rather than waiting until the Autumn. It played right into FF hands.

    Pat Leahy's book (Showtime) deals excellently on the election and Labours performance. Ahern wasnt going down too well beforehand, but FF made the decision to run him up and down every road etc, much the approach that Kenny copied in 07.

    FF also promised giveaway budgets, far in excess of what FG/Lab were.. and as for 'zero tolerance'... hahahahahaha

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    Quote Originally Posted by TIREDSOULD View Post
    Just off the top of my head - as I was only 13 at the time, but I feel that the turnaround on the Spring Tide saw the major reduction in the Coalition's seat numbers with a serious loss of seats. Fine Gael I believe actually increased their seats in the Dail to a small degree.
    Would feel that the media perforances of Bertie against Bruton would have been a major factor alright. And a lot of the anti Fianna Fail hatred (amongst swing voters/FF leaning) at the 92 election had sufficiently abated as well.
    I bloody remember it only too well, mores the pity. Bruton took Bertie apart in the debate (bizarrely, Bruton was heavily advised by none other than Eoghan Harris for the debate, and you could hear it when Bruton ripped the carpet from under Bertie on the Northern peace process of all things). However, the big event was the intervention of Independant Newspapers firmly on the side of FF (some things never change). First they spun the debate as a victory for Bertie , and then they "bent the rules" (I'm being polite there) by doing their notorious "payback time" headline on election day. These events were enough to swing the crucial 4 or 5 seats that decided it. In other countries, it might have been termed an "inappropriate media intervention" or even "a coup". But this is Ireland, so normal rules do not apply. Mind you, neither the Indo or anyone else physically forced the morons to actually go and vote out the best Government we ever had, to replace them with a gang of spivs, gangsters and snakeoil salesmen. That was all down to our own stupidity.

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    Politics.ie Member RahenyFG's Avatar
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    How stupid must us Irish people be. We had a good government that was doing well for the country and we got rid of them and are still stuck with Fianna Fail government since. We won't even learn our lesson from their failures this time around either. They'll be out in the next election but most likely back in again in the following election.

    Ireland is screwed politically

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    Bertie lost 3 seats in the last election, where he shone was his ability to bring others into his web, nobody expected the Greens to be bought over, Beritie needed them as insurance. How right he was.


    Mary Hanafin, says we are going to have flat growth, I was born on a farm. I do not think that is good growth, In fact I never came across that kind of growth.

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    Quote Originally Posted by redger View Post
    . However, the big event was the intervention of Independant Newspapers firmly on the side of FF (some things never change). First they spun the debate as a victory for Bertie , and then they "bent the rules" (I'm being polite there) by doing their notorious "payback time" headline on election day. These events were enough to swing the crucial 4 or 5 seats that decided it. In other countries, it might have been termed an "inappropriate media intervention" or even "a coup". But this is Ireland, so normal rules do not apply. .
    You know The Sun greatly affected the UK election of 1992 with it's election day headline of 'If Kinnock wins will the last person to leave Britain please turn out the light' which turned around a predicted Labour victory into a Tory victory.

    What the Independent did most likely swung those crucial seats to the FF-PD coalition and away from Labour.

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    Quote Originally Posted by redger View Post


    However, the big event was the intervention of Independant Newspapers firmly on the side of FF (some things never change). First they spun the debate as a victory for Bertie , and then they "bent the rules" (I'm being polite there) by doing their notorious "payback time" headline on election day. These events were enough to swing the crucial 4 or 5 seats that decided it.

    Mind you, neither the Indo or anyone else physically forced the morons to actually go and vote out the best Government we ever had, to replace them with a gang of spivs, gangsters and snakeoil salesmen.

    That's my recollection too.

    But I have to add that the "gang of spivs, gangsters and snakeoil salesmen" as you (correctly) call them, were the same vermin that Slick Dick had happily supported five years earlier. I was among the many, many voters who didn't give my second preference to Labour in 1997 - to teach Spring/Labour/Fungus Finlay a lesson.

    EDIT - it's also why I wouldn't trust Gilmore (or Quinn) an inch - they've done it before so they can do it again - in the 'national interest' naturally.
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