Coarsening of the Irish middle-class and right-wing politics
There is a comfortable consensus on the left that left wing politics and parties will be the main beneficiaries of popular discontent with austerity and the economic crisis. So far this analysis seems to have been partially vindicated, with strong showings for the left and Sinn Féin (whom I include as a left party despite their antics in the North) in the last local and general elections. If we scratch the surface though, we'll notice a couple of other trends at play.
Fine Gael has turned hard right and gained roughly a third of the total, which it seems to be holding onto quite well so far. Their government so far is very authoritarian and there have been a number of moves to concentrate more power in the hands of the executive, and a scapegoating of the unemployed for non-existent fraud and as spongers. The worrying thing is that alot of middle-class people have actually bought into this and reading alot of different forums, and talking to friends and acquaintances back home, it seems the idea of the unemployed as scroungers and lazy feckless ne'er do wells is actually gaining a bit of traction. One instance of this is the equivocating of the unemployed with the bankers in the classic 'middle-class-is-being-squeezed-the-most-by-welfare-and-banks' analysis of the Indo but also quite prevalent on boards.ie and in casual conversation with alot of other people. Another is an increase in casual racism- anyone looking at other popular political forums will be struck by the increase in bile and venom towards immigrants (aka 'welfare tourists') that has become increasingly prevalent.
Given the correlation between an increase in these sentiments and sustained support for FG, I think it's fair to say that there are social battle lines being drawn at the moment and that the left and those who want to fight back against the bailout and austerity may have to oppose not just the government and IMF/ECB but also a significant portion of the population who support austerity, the crushing of the PS unions and organised labour, and a strengthening of the executive at the expense of democracy and individual civil liberties.
Нооруз пиээ пурылыа выиттыа
'Our goal is to conquer state power for the Irish working class'
Pat Rabitte, 1987
"Can I ask whether this is what the men of 1916 died for: a bailout from the German chancellor with a few shillings of sympathy from the British chancellor on the side?"
Michael Noonan, November 2010