12/17/2005

Bookies know best?

I've come across some very interesting odds at the bookies with regards to the next Irish General Election. Now of course, bookies aren't political experts but they are experts at making money so I always feel that a candidate's odds at the bookies are a decent way of measuring their chances at the polls. There are very few poor bookmakers out there!

The slight favourite still is a return of the present FF/PD government at 7/4 but what interests me is that the odds suggest that Labour are as likely to end up in government with Fianna Fáil as Fine Gael. This doesn't really surprise me as I think that Sinn Féin will at least double their number of TDs and if other parties are not interested in coalition or are unable to do a deal with Sinn Féin then the only other possible coalition will be Fianna Fáil/ Labour. It is unlikely that in such a scenario Pat Rabitte could survive as leader of the Labour given the way which he personally has indulged in a back slapping campaign with Enda Kenny. 10/1 are also decent odds on a Fianna Fáil/ Sinn Féin government. And yes I know what Bertie has said about coalition with Sinn Féin but we have to remember that Haughey said the exact same things about coalition in the late 80s before jumping into bed with O'Malley to save his political skin. There is also one other possible combination that the bookies haven't mentioned which may become a possibility - a fragile alliance of Fine Gael, Labour, the Greens and the PDs. Harney has not commited herself to Fianna Fáil as yet and if the numbers add up, anything is possible.

Certainly there are interesting time ahead in Irish politics and there will be many twists and turns before the makeup of the next government is known. I do feel however that the landscape of Irish politics is changing. It would not surprise if in a couple of decades we see a Fianna Fáil/ Fine Gael coalition.

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