A FF/FG coalition is a poison chalice from which neither of them will drink. Now both parties are damned if they do and damned if they don’t, while Sinn Fein can sit on the sideline and watch their rivals tear each other apart.
National interest, for either party, is not just that one of them takes power but that the two of them keep the shinners at bay, while maintaining their own political identity.
This, of course, in the treacherous shifting sands of Irish politics in recent years, is easier said than done.
For a start, the wholesale and rampant greed, manifested and celebrated as, the Celtic Tiger and the subsequent fall to earth, with a resounding and still reverberating thud, has, at least, had a cathartic effect on the body politic and woken it, like a long term coma victim, from a sleep that began, ironically, in 1919.
That ideological stasis, since known as treaty politics, has blinded people to the realities of politics, the haves and have nots. Instead, it has become a near century old, tribal struggle for power at all costs and often, by any means.
Realpolitik in Ireland, today, is in the proliferation of Independents who, in one form or another, display, identify and reflect, the ideological leanings of their supporters. Many of them have been elected on the strength of single issues, like anti-water charges, but they are, more simply the genesis of a new political landscape.
This is why Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are caught in a dilemma since both are soaked in and imbued with the belief and only they, whichever one, represents the true ‘national interest’ and a coalition of the pair is as impossible as mixing oil and water, a denial of their individual raison d’etre.
To compound their problems is the rise of Sinn Fein, a party that tries to present itself as both left wing and republican, for intents and purposes, a Fianna Fáil without shiny suits.