Our Political Leaders and Their Choices
Irish politics is now at a crossroads. Each of the party leaders must now decided if they plan to stay until the next election or hand the torch over to their successor. Each party has their own problems with this process. The current largest party of the Dail faces the problem that the incumbent, Enda Kenny, will be unable to install his successor before he calls a general election.
Lets start with the biggest party and its leader Enda Kenny. The current Taoiseach is the first FG leader to be reinstall to the position following a general election. Unfortunately his minority government is in a sketchy position, supported from the opposition benches by Fianna Fail and a rag tag set of Independents. Should the government fall, and it seems it may be before a full 5 year term, Mr. Kenny ends up leading a disliked party into election, unable to have a new leader and Taoiseach supported by his party.
Fine Gael only has one option, this is to begin searching for a new leader of the Party who will only take over the role of Party leader and not that of Taoiseach. In other words a party election for a new Leader. A leader that would fight a general election as part of the handover process. Otherwise Fine Gael must face up to the challenge of the General Election with a weak leader or replace him as leader before he leaves office.
FF have no choice but to continue with Micheal Martin. While he has been able to build up the party, he'll be unlikely to lead it into government. FF will have an unlikely minority government possibly supported by a weak Fine Geal with no support from the Independent benches. Unless FF is able to return back to its pre-2011 election they will want to remain the second party with a 3rd minority FG government. With the polls showing FF remaining between 25 to 30%, and FG below these levels both parties may have to face up to the hard truth of an opposition lead by Sinn Fein.
Gerry Adam's had a difficult job peacefully handing his leadership to a successor. His leadership of the party is marred by many in the media, and opportune times to leave keep escaping his leadership and his party. Spotlights investigation into the death of Dennis Donaldson, which many argue is highly inaccurate, still puts his and his parties role in the troubles in a negative light.
To leave the leadership role so soon after the Spotlight programme would likely be used in the press to suggest he is resigning due his role in the murder of Dennis Donaldson. This leaves both the party and its leadership with the problem of when is the right time for Mr. Adams to hand the leadership over to someone else.
If Gerry Adams is unwilling to resign as leader of the party due to a sense of historic feelings, the party has a major problem if it seems to be devout to Adams. If Gerry is waiting to leave the party to contest the next Presidential Election, the party must face up to the idea that the General Election may happen before Micheal Ds first term as President ends. They will also want Micheal D to retire as Adam's is unlike to win against President Higgins.
Gerry has a major decision to make and he will need to make it soon.
The Labour Party
The Labour Party are unlikely to gain in the next general election. The party has yet to face the problems that it created in the last government and the sense of absolute desolation felt by party supporters. The party will face into the next general election with prospect of losing TDs rather than gaining any. They will hope that their star TD Alan Kelly will be dropped by the good people of Tipperary.
Brendan Howlin will have to show strength and accept his responsibilities in the last government if he is to create gains for the party, if the party stagnates in the next general election, the following ones could see Labour's extinction from Irish politics.
The SocDems are now down to 2 leaders and 2 TDs. Both will need to make up their mind as to weather or not they want to be full time leaders. The SocDems need a leader to grow their party. The 3 TDs that lead the party into the last General Election top their respective Constituencies, however the failed to bring in a 4th seat.
Without a leader the SocDems have the problem will not be able to bring the left together and strengthen their reach in general elections. It is likely that they will be the only party to bring the left electorate back to a mainstream party that will be off the left.
People Before Profit
PBP are to closely aligned to The Socialist Party AKA Anti Austerity Alliance. Again it suffers from having a defacto leader. A leader would help it to gain ground without the need of the political alliance with the AAA.
The Socialist Party seem to be afraid of their name. AAA is confusing to people and even the idea that the last Leader of the party doesn't seem to have handed his leadership over. Joe Higgins successor is needed in the Dail, and his heir seems to be a member of PBP!
The Green Party
Eamon Ryan was able to return the Green's and the party look set to survive follow a disastrous 2011 general election. Eamon's need to be seen to bring back the Green party and bring his policies to more in the electorate. He is tainted by the Fianna Fail and PD governments of the 2000's even thought the party was only involve in the last 3 years of that political partnership.
Like FF it is unlikely that The Green's will seek a new leader in the near future, but it is unlikely that Ryan will be able to bring them fully back from the brink.
Some independents need to return to their roots, but its up to the political parties to provide substantial leadership to show their willingness to rule. The broken left needs a leader and The Civil war needs to be laid to rest.