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16 March 2016 | 0

Paul HearnsAt time of writing, the 2016 general election has taken place, the main counting is done and only a few seats remain to be determined.

The broad outcome of one of the shortest campaigns in the history of the state has produced a very interesting result, though far from the revolution as characterised by the larger parties.

Terms such as a ‘fracturing’ of politics are vast overstatements and the fact that this time around the main parties of government for the last decade have still taken 90% of Dáil seats bears this out. What is different is the number of independents and smaller parties that have been favoured with seats, perhaps reflecting a growing number of people who are unsatisfied with the traditional parties of government.

“Given the number of high profile job announcements, investments and major tech infrastructure wins here over the last few years, no right-leaning government, irrespective of its make-up, is going to want to do anything to change that, and everyone knows it”

The glaring conclusion from the overall result, 50 odd seats for Fine Gael and 44 odd for Fianna Fáil, is that the country clearly does not trust either one to lead a majority government, with many seeing one party as having led the country to ruin and the other having ruined its recovery. The clear implication would appear to be a coalition government of the two parties that would give them a strong majority to implement a programme for government under the very watchful eye of an increasingly left leaning opposition.

Ideologically opposed
Now both may cry that they are too ideologically opposed to ever enter government together, irrespective of what the electorate expresses via the ballot box. However, in reality, no one else sees it that way. In an excellent piece in the Irish Times, Professor Diarmuid Ferriter not only expounds this interpretation, he cites Seán O’Faoláin from more than half a century ago, saying both parties equally lacked any genuine political ideas with which to distinguish themselves from each other on the right of the political spectrum.

This is also borne out by broadcaster and commentator Ian Guider, who reported at time of writing that the 10-year bond yield had changed little as the markets ignore the election outcome. Again, this can be seen as a reflection that Ireland is unlikely to take a 90-degree policy turn under a so-called ‘Grand Coalition’ government of the two Civil War parties, or one led by either propped up by a rainbow of the smaller parties and independents.

So if the electorate sees no real difference between the two parties anymore, nor does the markets or anyone else, why carry on with the pretence?

Speculation
Let us speculate then, on the likely implications for the tech sector in Ireland if the two main parties come around to what everyone else has long since known, and go into government together, and critically, last for more a few months before someone puts their respective toys on an out-of-pram trajectory.

There will be none.

There, that was easy, wasn’t it?

But let us look for a moment at why this is most likely the case.

Both parties have in the past been very pro-business, pro-tech sector and pro-foreign direct investment (FDI). It is highly unlikely that any combination of the two would change that. Given the number of high profile job announcements, investments and major infrastructure wins here over the last few years, no right-leaning government, irrespective of its make-up, is going to want to do anything to change that, and everyone knows it.

Secondly, with that large majority, no one is going to be able to seriously challenge anything the government might decide to do in this area. With each having such a positive record in terms of promoting not only the tech industry, but also the conditions to favour it, from a business and economic perspective, it is unlikely that anything bad will happen here.

What gives me even more cause for optimism for the tech sector is the story that TechPro exclusively broke recently, that of Barry Lowry’s appointment as Government CIO (GCIO).

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