The Enigma of Fianna Fail: Party Strategy, Social Classes and the Politics of Hegemony

Richard Dunphy

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


    During the 1997 general election campaign in Ireland, the deputy leader of Fianna Fáil, Mary O’Rourke, told a seminar on unemployment organised by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions that her party had more in common with the Labour Party on the question of unemployment than it had with its prospective coalition partners, the Progressive Democrats. Flatly rejecting the Progressive Democrats’ proposals to shed 25 000 jobs in the public sector, she projected Fianna Fáil as the defender of the public sector.¹ Her remarks were, of course, a classic example of Fianna Fáil tactics and rhetoric . By ‘muddying the waters’ of those who sought to portray the election as a contest between a centre-left rainbow coalition and a centre-right Fianna Fáil– Progressive Democrats alignment, she emphasised Fianna Fáil’s ability to face both ‘left’ and ‘right’ simultaneously. The statement indicated to the trade union movement that Fianna Fáil, which has continued to win more working-class votes than the Labour Party and Democratic Left combined, understood the economic concerns of both the unemployed and public sector worker components of its cross-class electoral bloc. Thereby setting limits to the extent to which that cross-class electoral bloc would be endangered by the pursuit of orthodox economic
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationIreland
    Subtitle of host publicationThe Politics of Independence, 1922-49
    EditorsMike Cronin, John M. Regan
    Place of PublicationUnited Kingdom
    PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
    Number of pages17
    ISBN (Electronic)9780230535695
    ISBN (Print)9780333720516
    Publication statusPublished - 2000


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