Friday, February 25, 2011

General Election in Ireland

Today, polls open in the Republic of Ireland, the first eurozone state to hold a general election following a financial bailout. The burden of the bailout will likely loom large in voters' minds as they enter the polling booths, that’s for sure. Read my last posting on this issue dated February 17. The Irish use the system of proportional representation to elect members of parliament rather than the first-past-the-post method. Anyway, there are 566 candidates fighting in 43 constituencies for 165 seats in the Irish parliament (Dail Eireann).

I just want to cover two issues that I see are important for that country, i.e. tax increases versus spending cuts.

Fianna Fail: Plans to reduce the deficit by raising two-thirds of the money from savings in public spending and one-third from taxation.
Fine Gael: Tax increases make up 27% of its plan; the rest would come from spending cuts and the sale of state assets.
Labor: Plan is split 50:50 between spending cuts and new tax raising measures.
Sinn Fein: Does not provide a breakdown of its plan, but the emphasis in its manifesto is on "a fair taxation system". It also plans to reverse "savage cuts" imposed in the 2011 Budget.
Green Party: Like its coalition partner Fianna Fail, the Greens' plan comprises "two-thirds expenditure and one-third revenue measures".

And the EU/IMF bail-out:
Fianna Fail: Will seek to renegotiate the average interest rate on the loans, currently set at 5.8%.
Fine Gael: Will seek to renegotiate a lower interest rate and "a more credible, fairer package".
Labor: Will seek to renegotiate the deal "to include a jobs strategy, to share the debt burden with bondholders, to reduce the interest rate, and to leave room for Ireland's economy to grow".
Sinn Fein: Does not intend to draw down further from the EU-IMF loan.
Green Party: Makes no explicit reference to renegotiating the rate of interest on the loans.

The first results are expected early on Saturday afternoon. But I will have to wait until Sunday to see how this election pans out!

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