It’s the morning after the night before and Ireland’s newspaper editorialists have been busy beavers. Here’s NewsWhip’s summary of the best bits:
After the near ouster of a government whose policies can only be described as thud and blunder, the newspapers are, naturally, growing today.
“The people have spoken,” announces the Irish Times, saying: ”Fine Gael, for the first time, is the biggest political party in this State [and] Fianna Fáil has been dealt a blow of seismic and unimaginable proportions.”
The paper sees the result very much as a triumph of people power, saying: “No one can say that our parliamentary democracy did not work.
“The Dáil will be a very different place,” the newspaper concludes.
The Irish Independent says Fine Gael “fought an excellent election campaign and thoroughly deserve victory,” but cautions the party against forming a government without the support of Labour.
“This country has had its fill of independent deputies, and should not rejoice at the large number returned in this election. Independents can hold a minority government to ransom, to the general detriment. Worse, they can defect and threaten political instability,” it says.
Labour and the public sector unions must play their part in remedying the “over-staffing and under-employment” in Ireland, it says.
There is a “profound mandate for change,” the Irish Examiner headlines.
“The drama of this great sea change is matched, and possibly surpassed, by the urgent demands facing it,” it says, concluding “there is not a moment to waste,” and that the new crop of Fine Gael and Labour TDs “have the future of this society and its political system in their hands.”
The Irish Daily Star says Fianna Fáil “deserved everything they got” and that “Mr. Kenny and Mr. Gilmore have the support of the overwhelming majority of the people of Ireland.” The paper, which featured it’s Star Comment leader column on page two, says: “They must indicate that trust by delivering excellent government, utterly focussed on the welfare of the people.”
“Now, get on with it!”, the newspaper demands.
The Irish Sun makes a similar demand on the putative new coalition: “They MUST form a government by next weekend,” says the paper, in order to start “creating jobs, cleaning up our rotten political system and reforming the public service.”
The foreign press was far from silent, too. Britain’s Guardian says the Irish election shows: “The people have mastered the rules of the electoral game to redouble the force of their rejection.”
The paper hits a cautionary note, though, saying Fine Gael is not the answer and that the party “has precious few plans for rescuing economic sovereignty today.
It continues: “The people who have said what they do not want have not been offered a clear alternative. It may not be long before they are once again scratching their heads, and asking – who elected the bankers?”
Naturally, the Wall Street Journal couldn’t disagree more. “Ireland revolts for stability,” says the house journal of the American financial elite, noting that “predictions that the financial crisis would cause unrest in Ireland have been proved wrong.”
The Independent of London runs a rather unflattering cartoon of Fianna Fáil as Oscar losers while the newspaper’s leader column is headlined: “Ireland must free itself from economic bondage.” The new government must recognize it is “an unacceptable injustice to expect the Irish population to suffer for the sake of repaying in full bankers from across Europe who lent money to pump up the country’s economy in the boom years,” it says.
Readers spoke back to the newspapers, too. The majority of the space on today’s Irish Times letter page is given over to the election. One reader wrote: “The electorate hasn’t just spoken, it has bellowed.”
One letter in the Examiner strikes a strangely discordant note: “It’s high time our so-called elections were audited in full and supervised by outside observers to prevent fraud and manipulation,” writes one Examiner reader, who appears worried that the result was fraudulent, saying: “Ballot paper after ballot paper sat neatly on top of each other with no deviation in the way creases were made in many cases.”