Disillusioned with the results in the Meath East by-election? Well Shane Fitzgerald is here to give you the break down on the the crisis in Irish politics. You know the small matter of people not voting.

Fine Gael's Helen McEntee who was elected in the Meath East by-election

Fine Gael’s Helen McEntee who was elected in the Meath East by-election

The Meath East by-election(#mhe13) is over. Helen McEntee just about wins the seat which her father, Shane McEntee (RIP) had until recently been incumbent of.

A quick scan across social media and people’s first impression to it is a kneejerk reaction of “ah bollix!” coupled or followed after with “Irish people deserve everything they get after this!”. Fine Gael are on nearly 39% of the vote! They won the seat! But most disturbingly – Fianna Fail, back like the walking dead, are on 33%!

But, it’s not all about the podium. If you look at the Irish Times or the Independent, none of the headlines allude(yet) to any great victory for the establishment or Troika. Presumably this is because the numbers speak for themselves – they’re unprecedentedly awful. The rot is surprisingly deep.

The most recent elections in raw votes:





+ – since 2007
Fine Gael

11 129

17 471

9 459

  (1 670 / 15%)

Fianna Fail

18 735

  8 384 8 230

(10 505 / 56%)

Sinn Fein

  1 695

  3 795 3 180

+ 1 485 / 87%

Labour Party

  5 136

  8 994    959

  (4 177 / 81%)

Green Party

  1 330

     461    382

  (   948 / 72%)


  4 982

  3 647 2 569

  (2 569 / 52%)

Turnout was a minuscule 38% in yesterday’s by-election, while it was 64% and 66% in 2007 and 2011 respectively. Roughly 40% of people who voted on those occasions didn’t vote this time. It’s very much a stretch to say that Helen McEntee TD – like the government as a whole – has a mandate to carry out what she intends to: society-crippling austerity.

Apart from Sinn Fein – every party or group(‘OT’ = Others, Independents etc) is not just down on the previous election, but together a snapshot of a state and political system in decline. Sinn Fein’s performance relative to the disintegration of everyone around them equates to just treading water. Fianna Fail are down for their 2nd election in Meath East in a row, with fewer voters than even their 2011 demolition. Some comeback.

Meath has long been the Fine Gael stronghold in the country. John Bruton hails from there. Yet, Fine Gael couldn’t get anywhere near even the quota in their own base in a (tragic) situation that perhaps might have played a role in sidelining politics, austerity and emphasizing the personal vote. You couldn’t conceive of a more likely situation for Fine Gael to flex their muscles – but their support was like someone leaking the air out of a balloon.

Despite winning the seat, roughly 8,000 voters – just about half of all their 2011 support – abandoned Fine Gael yesterday. Compared to perhaps a more “normal” election in 2007, they are still down a hefty 15% of their voters already. Austerity doesn’t come for free, and they’re only 2 years into term. What happens to Fine Gael in the next general election in places where they are significantly weaker – ie everywhere?

Actual votes cast for FF-FG in last 3 elections, including yesterday:


29 864


25 855


17 689

On 959 votes, Labour were obliterated. They’re finished. They were more at home alongside Jim Tallon and the UKIP-Ireland branch than contesting for the seat.

So how does the overall result stack up from the Troika’s perspective? Recently a general election in technocrat Mario Monti’s Italy showed a tiny proportion of the population were in favour of the Troika and austerity. This non-affirmation, this tiny vote of support – just over 30% of the electorate – has been enough to reignite the Eurozone crisis and threaten the future of Western Capitalism! And yet, all of the Troika parties in Meath East combined got… 29%!

Monti & Bersani: 14m/46m votes : 30% : “Crisis! Troika, Establishment Rejected!”

FF-FG-Lab-GRN: 19k/64k votes : 29% : “Establishment Strengthens Grip!

So any sober assessment of the full Monti in Meath has dread-raising implications for the establishment. A short 2 years into its second austerian government and it looks as though the Troika have already burnt through their last unsullied party of banker-stooges – as Fine Gael-Labour yesterday confirmed, they are shortly to find themselves on the scrapheap along with Fianna Fail, the Greens and the PDs.

And this death-knell sounds *before* they intend to forcefully steal hundreds of euro directly from millions of people’s wages, pensions and welfare for the home taxes this summer. Before social partnership possibly breaks down with the return of union militancy. Before X-case legislation has been wrested from them. All in the general situation of a deteriorating economy and increasing attacks. Today, in Meath, a weak government and state revealed itself as the Emperor with no clothes on, where’s the youth(movement) to point it out?”