I don't follow Irish politics as much as I probably should, mostly because I find it baffling- the main point of difference between the two major parties- Fianna Fail and Fine Gael- isn't socialism versus the free market or social liberalism versus conservatism, instead it appears to be whether you support the people who supported the treaty that granted Ireland independence in the 1920s. Even so as Ireland is one of my favourite parts of England* I think it is worth looking at.
Fianna Fail appear to be ideologically flexible with no real principles whereas Fine Gael are like a European Christian Democratic party except they are in semi-permanent coalition with the Labour party when they govern.
Ireland's economic woes have been more severe than the UK's though and unlike the UK the party in power making the cuts (much more severe than ours) were also responsible for getting into the mess. Anyway the current polling suggests that enough damage has been done to Fianna Fail to push them from being Ireland's permanent largest party to lagging in 3rd place. From the outside that suggests the potential for a realignment in Irish politics.
It also suggests that the British Labour Party may have been lucky to lose the 2010 election- getting into a mess is one thing and cleaning it up is another but when you're responsible for both things the electorate don't like it one bit.
* I tried a variation of that line on a Welshman once, he didn't like it.
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