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Irish Greens stay in government, win policy concessions

On Saturday, a conference of Irish Green Party members voted to stay in government with the center-right party Fianna Fail. The vote was based on approval of a revised program for government that Green negotiators worked out last week with their much larger coalition partner. The decision comes at a hard time for the Irish Greens. Many voters on the left who supported them are angry over their participation in a center-right government, and their failure to pull out after several high-profile Fianna Fail corruption scandals. Fianna Fail supporters tend to oppose the Greens’ agenda. One thing seemed clear to everyone in Ireland – if the Greens had chosen to pull out of government and force an election, both parties in the current government would have taken a beating at the polls.

A major issue was the NAMA ‘bad bank’ (a government bank to buy toxic assets) proposal, which the Green rank-and-file had opposed. NAMA was renegotiated so that if it operates at a loss, temporary tax increases will recoup taxpayers’ money. Among the other concessions Greens won are: a carbon tax to be introduced in 2010; charges for water use (free basic allowance for each household, with charges for excess use); heavy investment in the green economy; no university fees; more primary and secondary school teachers; a national climate change adaptation strategy; an end to corporate donations to politicians and parties; 2:1 spending ratio on public transit vs. roads; a civil partnership bill and legal recognition of transsexuals; and major animal rights victories including a ban on hare coursing and stag hunting, and a 3-year phase-out of fur farming. See this article for a thorough look at what the Greens got from the revised program for government.

Dave Schwab

One Comment

  1. The people in Ireland who seem to be really enthused about the weekend’s vote are animal rights activists, educators, and student groups. For some depth on concessions the Irish Greens won on education policy, see this article:

    http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/education/2009/1013/1224256492501.html

    Many Irish newspapers are critical of, or even hostile to, the Green Party. I think that’s because European papers tend to wear their left/right disposition on their sleeve. The Left dislikes the Greens for being in a center-right government, and the Right dislikes them for pushing human rights and environmental policies in an otherwise big-business oriented government.

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