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Thread: What does Fianna Fail stand for?

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    Politics.ie Member Raketemensch's Avatar
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    Default What does Fianna Fail stand for?

    This is a genuine request from FF supporters to explain what they see as the values or ideology of the party and why they follow it. What makes you a 'Fianna Fail sort of person'? It can be difficult for non-fans like myself to understand what exactly FF is supposed to represent and here is an opportunity to get it out in the open. If it gets off the ground at all, the thread will no doubt disintegrate into abuse and childishness but lets try to keep it clean for as long as possible, I think it could be of interest for both those who are for and those against.

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    To be a FFer you need to whole heartedly, and unquestionably support what your leaders plan is, even though you dont know what it is.

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    Politics.ie Member Raketemensch's Avatar
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    Default Silence speaks volumes

    Thanks for that. I was hoping for more responses from FFers but their silence speaks volumes. They don't know what is stands for and they probably don't want to think about it at all. Case closed.

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    Fianna Fáil is a classic populist party in the sense that its only policy normally is to follow the crowd, and do what it thinks the public wants, not because it is right but because it is popular.

    It has however potentially fatally compromised that appeal by in the 1990s and 2000s becoming a distinctly sectional party, becoming the political wing of builders, bankers and developers. That worked when either the developers had mass support or tolerance, coupled with a form of communal pride in the Celtic Tiger, or when developers' interests were at least marginally similar to popular interest, ie everyone wanted property, wanted to own houses, etc. In the current economic crisis that parallel interest has shattered, leaving bankers, builders and developers' interests conflicting with the perceived interest of voters. Fianna Fáil under Cowen has not been able to dump its cosy cartel with those groups, generating mass public antagonism. The public aren't simply angry with increases taxes, etc. Public opinion can wear harsh measures, but only if they are convinced that those taking the decisions are not protecting those whose interests are contrary to the perceived public interest. People however perceive that FF is still protecting its 'friends' and is willing to shaft ordinary people to protect the interests of its funders.

    Lipset and Rokkan, and others, have written how when a political party system emerges (through what is know as 'mass political mobilisation') it is effectively locked in place, which is why parties in many countries tend to be cross-generational and cross-era, reinventing themselves as different public issues arise. FF was always a classic reinvention party (the party that was anti-the treaty worked the treaty; the party that was anti-industrialisation and pro-rural became the party of industrialisation and urban society. The party that was fanatically republican and anti- the Anglo-Irish Agreement became the party of the AIA and the Belfast Agreement, the party that was protectionist became non-protectionist, etc.

    However under Lipset and Rokkan, and others there is one thing that sweeps a party into the electoral bin - a failure to evolve and to control its own message. That happened to the Liberals in the UK in the 1920s, happened to the Radicals in France in the 1950s, happened to the Christian Democrats in Italy and the Conservatives in Canada in the 1990s, etc. There is a possibility that such a catastrophic failure may be facing FF this time, for a number of reasons:

    1. It had knack of losing power at the right time, being able to oppose cuts on the basis of populism and then return to power when public opinion was ready for cuts. Its Waterloo may ironically have been in 2002 this time. FG lost so many seats it needed to climb not one but two political everests to get into power in 2007. While Kenny achieved the highest comparative seat increase in political history, beating the records of de Valera, Lynch, O'Malley and Spring, it still was not enough, by a tiny amount, to deliver government. So FF find themselves in government during a massive recession and so find the conflict between their populism and their links with bankers, developers and monied supporters.

    2. They have an indecisive leader who avoids taking leadership stances in the way other international leaders have done - ie, no message to the nation, no openness, a constant feeling of drift and indecision.

    3. The fact that the PDs plus McCreevy dragged FF off its 'follow the people' appeal and into right wing economics, a division exposed in the collapse of the Celtic Tiger when a series of fatal mistakes, most notably overheating the economy to boost party supporting builders and developers, etc.

    4. A disintergrating local organisation. A party once a by-word for local on-the-ground has through complaicency linked to Celtic Tiger arrogance ('we are brilliant. We led the country into the boom. We know what we are doing. Critics should commit suicide' etc).

    5. Radical change within its main rival Fine Gael, who under Kenny went from being a niche party (large farmers and the wealthy) to being the dominant party among young people, has a massive working class support base (!!!) and re-vitalised organisation, helping to grow into the 30s and remain there, whereas over the previous 30 years FF went from being a party in the 40s to hit the 30s (two elections saw it at 39%, in 1992 and 1997), followed by freefall through the thirties and in polls down to the mid 20s and below. (Political scientists used to say FF could not go below 37%, then 34%, then pollsters said FF had 30% minimum guaranteed. On current poll numbers even hitting 30% is now unlikely!)

    So arguably FF nows fit the pattern for one of those catastrophic meltdowns so rare in politics worldwide and which only happen in very exceptional circumstances.

    I had always presumed FF was a cert to be the dominant party in Ireland. For the first time looking at what happened in places like Italy, Canada, France etc I am beginning to wonder whether FF's position as the dominant player is in doubt, with Cowen in effect as the John Dillon of the party, taking over a party far less strong in reality than perceived, and drifting from dominance to marginalisation. It is worth noting that FF achieved dominance in the period 1930-36, when then depression so damaged the previously main party, Cumann na nGaedhael, that it allowed the second-placed party, Fianna Fáil, to overtake it and maintain that dominance, with Cumann na nGaedhael, and later Fine Gael, going into longterm decline, producing a one-time party of government that by 1948 was down into the teens in support. It is ironic that FF are in such severe trouble in the biggest economic crisis since the 1930s. (Curiously, every big economic collapse produced a realignment. The 1817-1830 crash produced the O'Connellite movement. The late 1870s-1880s banking crash produced the Home Rule party and led Parnell to dominance within it following William Shaw's desposition in 1880 - Shaw ended up being made Bankcrupt when his Munster Bank collapsed some years later - and the realignment in Free State politics in the 1932 election following the impact in Ireland of the depression.

    Statistically Ireland is only 3% off a full depression, and the budget is likely to depress the economy by greater than 3%. So the biggest collapse since the 1930s could produce another political realignment.

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    I'll give you an example...

    There is one FF councillor down here, who responds to every question with

    "what do you think yourself"

    eg should Ireland vote Yes to Lisbon... "what do you think yourself"

    once the person responds, whether positive or negative, the councillor will then agree with him... and the person will go away feelign vindicated

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    Politics.ie Member dmc444's Avatar
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    Im an FF member and here are a few of many reasons why i support the party.

    Peace Process- Fianna Fail's work on the peace process has been fantastic and it has delievered huge benefits for the people of the north.

    Europe- Fianna Fail realises that Ireland needs to be at the heart of Europe in order for us to get the benefit of the union.

    Republicanism- I believe in the re-unification of Ireland by peaceful means and i believe Fianna Fail can deliever that.

    For me Fianna Fail just was a party to which i could look and say thats what i believe in. Fianna Fail is a broad church which includes many different groups but i believe that is a strength, it is never a bad thing to have different groups expressing differing points of view.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dmc444 View Post
    I
    Europe- Fianna Fail realises that Ireland needs to be at the heart of Europe in order for us to get the benefit of the union.

    Republicanism- I believe in the re-unification of Ireland by peaceful means and i believe Fianna Fail can deliever that.

    .
    If FF is so pro EU, why is Ireland the tardiest country in the block when it comes to implementing directives on the environment and human/workers rights etc.??????

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    Politics.ie Member Dreaded_Estate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dmc444 View Post
    Im an FF member and here are a few of many reasons why i support the party.

    Peace Process- Fianna Fail's work on the peace process has been fantastic and it has delievered huge benefits for the people of the north.

    Europe- Fianna Fail realises that Ireland needs to be at the heart of Europe in order for us to get the benefit of the union.

    Republicanism- I believe in the re-unification of Ireland by peaceful means and i believe Fianna Fail can deliever that.

    For me Fianna Fail just was a party to which i could look and say thats what i believe in. Fianna Fail is a broad church which includes many different groups but i believe that is a strength, it is never a bad thing to have different groups expressing differing points of view.
    All the main parties want Ireland to be at the heart of Europe, not something that separates FF from the rest.

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    Politics.ie Member Raketemensch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dmc444 View Post
    Peace Process- Fianna Fail's work on the peace process has been fantastic and it has delievered huge benefits for the people of the north.

    ...........

    Republicanism- I believe in the re-unification of Ireland by peaceful means and i believe Fianna Fail can deliever that.
    The peace process has been very successful in ending almost all of the political violence related to the partition of Ireland. It also makes a united Ireland very unlikely any time soon because nobody is suffering with the status quo now. Don't get me wrong, I consider peace to be much more important than national sovereignty over part of the landmass, I'm just pointing out the contradiction.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dmc444 View Post
    Peace Process- Fianna Fail's work on the peace process has been fantastic and it has delievered huge benefits for the people of the north.

    Europe- Fianna Fail realises that Ireland needs to be at the heart of Europe in order for us to get the benefit of the union.

    Republicanism- I believe in the re-unification of Ireland by peaceful means and i believe Fianna Fail can deliever that.
    Right so you follow FF because they adopt FG policies a few years later?

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