The biggest losers of the 2016 Irish parliamentary elections, are not only the liberal conservatives of Fine Gael. Because the Irish Labour Party has lost over -12,8% of its voters, they received only 6,6%. In 2011, the social democrats won big time with 19,5% and they joined a pro-capitalist government with the liberal conservatives. However Irish workers soon realized that by voting Labour, they voted for austerity and right-wing economics. Labour carried out the same austerity plans of the previous Fianna Fáil government. The Anti-Austerity Alliance in Ireland was able to win 5 seats, thanks to a coalition with the People Before Profit Alliance!
Irish social democracy has been punished for supporting the austerity plans of Fine Gael, the main liberal conservative party of Ireland. Let this be a warning to all social democrats who participate in capitalist governments, who wish to impose brutal austerity cuts and deregulation in favor of big business. The Irish Labour Party has been reduced to a small political party. Not since 1987 did the social democrats scored so badly in an Irish general election. For revolutionary socialists this massive defeat for Labour comes to no surprise. We said that by betraying their principals, Labour has lost the working class vote!
Liberal conservatives have also been punished. Fine Gael lost over -10% of its voters. Fianna Fáil, the conservative populist party has been able to profit from the unpopularity of the liberal conservatives. But we must not forget that the previous Fianna Fáil government lost the 2011 election because of austerity cuts. Revolutionary socialists said then that by voting for Fine Gael, Ireland would not see an end to austerity. We were proven right as the Irish government under Fine Gael and Labour, carried out massive attacks on workers and their families. A water tax was imposed which is a heavy burden on working class families. Still Labour and Fine Gael imposed this water tax to increase government funding!
The main opposition against austerity is led by the Anti-Austerity Alliance set up by members of the Socialist Party. They are joined by members of the People Before Profit Alliance. Together the anti-austerity movement was able to present a alternative to the capitalist parties, who claim that deep social cuts are ”necessary”. Labour leader Joan Burton was among the biggest supporters of austerity. She can be called the Iron Lady of Ireland. Although a social democrat, she is deeply anti-Marxist and attacked the Socialist Party for their rejection of capitalist barbarism. Burton even claimed that the SP was undemocratic because it remains loyal to Marxist thinking, which her Labour Party has betrayed long ago!
Today however Joan Burton and her traitorous social democrats are defeated. Punished for their attacks on working class families. But will this defeat marked an end for austerity? Revolutionary socialists fear not, because Fine Gael can join up with Fianna Fáil and the remnants of Labour to form an Irish government. But since both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil never joined up before, it will be diffcult for capitalism to get a stable regime that serves their needs. Still if the markets and the EU demand it, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael will form a right-wing government with support from either Labour or independents. They could even ask the Green Party, since they are back in parliament too. The greens participated in the previous Fianna Fáil government and (like the social democrats today) were voted out of parliament in 2011 for supporting austerity!
A winner of the 2016 elections is Sinn Féin, a political party that grew out of the political wing of the Provisional Irish Republican Army. Some even claim that Sinn Féin members are still allied to the Provisional IRA, although the party itself denies this. As a leftist nationalist party, Sinn Féin always stood on a socialist platform in the past. However in the last years, the party moved to the right by participating in the government of North Ireland with right-wing Unionists. Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams even called his party a ”pro-enterprise party” pointing out that he has no problem with capitalist logic of firing workers and cutting jobs across Ireland. In the Dublin city council, Sinn Féin representatives voted in favor of the austerity budget, to cut social services to working class families. Proofing that Sinn Féin is not a party for workers and poor!
The Socialist Party has pointed out that Sinn Féin is a living contradiction. They claim to be leftist and supportive of workers on one side, yet are also reaching out the hand of friendship to those that profit from austerity and workers exploitation. Therefore Irish workers must have no illusions in the propaganda spread by Gerry Adams. It may even be possible that Sinn Féin joins a austerity government, much like Labour did with Fine Gael. Then workers will realize what it meant to vote for the Irish nationalists!
What ever the outcome, the Anti-Austerity Alliance (AAA) will fight all attacks on workers and their families. Ireland needs a new party for workers and poor people. The AAA is trying to build a movement that unites working class people for this goal. Together we can build an Ireland for the 99% not the 1%, which are supported by people like Joan Burton and her social democrats. Fighting for a socialist alternative is the next step in the struggle for a Unified Socialist Republic of Ireland!