Ireland: Sinn Féin Wins in Historic Result


But Stalemate in Irish Politics remains as No Party has a Clear Majority! Fight for a 32 County Workers Government!


Article by Joseph Adams, RCIT Britain, 16 February 2020,




Sinn Féin, the political wing of the Republican movement under Mary Lou McDonald, won a historic victory in the General Election in Éire on Saturday, 8th February. Éire, unlike England, has a proportional representation system of the single transferable vote and in essence a more democratic system with Sinn Féin coming first winning all the first preference votes, but failing to win an outright majority. They did not field enough candidates so Fianna Fáil, one of the two bourgeois capitalist parties, won 36 seats or TD’s (Members of parliament in the Irish dail). Sinn Fein won 37, however Fianna Fáil was only ahead because of its speaker.


“Sinn Féin has won the election. We have won the popular vote,” McDonald said, as counting of votes to fill seats in Dáil Éireann, parliament’s lower house, continued in constituencies across the country. Fianna Fáil emerged with the most seats after counting was completed early on Tuesday morning. Micheál Martin’s party finished with 38 seats compared with Sinn Fein’s 37 but because the Fianna Fail speaker was re-elected without contest, both parties are effectively on the same number. Won 24.5% of the first-preference vote in Saturday’s election, almost doubling its share from 2016 after harnessing voter anger at homelessness, soaring rents and fraying public services Fine Gael slid to 20.9% and the main opposition party, Fianna Fáil, slipped to 22.2%, widely perceived as punishment for having propped up Varadkar’s minority administration in a confidence and supply deal. The Greens, independents and small leftwing parties accounted for the rest. Turnout was 62.9%, down from 65.2% in the 2016 election. The fragmented results will produce a hung parliament with no party close to 80 seats – the number for a majority and stable government in the 160-seat chamber, which includes a speaker”. [1]




Fine Gael – the Former Ruling Party – Loses the Election




Unlike in England, where Brexit dominated the election, here in Ireland Brexit had not the same effect on the masses. The masses have voted for the petit-bourgeois, left-wing, nationalist party which is the political wing of the former Irish republican movement fighting imperialism. The developments with Brexit re-encouraged the struggle to establish an independent, United Ireland against England's rule over Northern Ireland. However, the main issues of the campaign were the struggle against homelessness, rising prices and austerity together with the lack of housing.


The two capitalist parties, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, refuse to form any part of a coalition with Sinn Féin quoting their anti-imperialist struggle over a number of years before the Blair government had organized the Good Friday Agreement whereby the IRA laid down their arms.




Demands for a United Ireland




The election result has produced no comment from Boris Johnson or the Tory government. McDonald has said that there should be a border poll to establish a United Ireland. Éire as a member of the European Union and Northern Ireland as (forced) part of Britain (which rules through a devolved assembly) voted heavily in favor to remain with the European Union - which if the poll proceeds will surely produce conflicts with the imperialist mainland in Britain. Meanwhile McDonald is trying to hatch a coalition with independents and even Fine Gael which is clearly against the electorate’s mandate and because they did not field enough candidates they will not be able to form a government.


“McDonald told RTE her preference was to form a government without either of the two formerly biggest parties but that she would speak to Varadkar and Martin because “that’s what grownups do”. She called for an end to the era of her party, formerly led by Gerry Adams, being frozen out of coalitions. “The democratic thing is for them to speak to me and stop this business of saying Sinn Féin can be put on the margin … So many people now have chosen us to represent them.” [2]


It is very likely that if no solution is found Éire might be going to the polls again to resolve this situation. Horse-trading is now taking place but the bourgeois parties of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael who were on opposite sides in the Irish Civil War (Cogadh Cathartha na hÉireann) of the 1920s which led to partition were thoroughly rejected by the masses of workers and small farmers. However, the capitalist state is determined to ensure that Sinn Féin is frozen out of government because of its former history of fighting British imperialism to a standstill. Irish politics has always produced unstable results and the bourgeoisie is seriously threatened with this result. It could mean a border poll to produce a United Ireland and that is what the extreme reactionary Unionists in the North are concerned about.


The Fianna Fáil parliamentary party has decided not to enter talks with Sinn Féin about forming a new Irish government. All eyes are on the makeup of the next Dáil (Irish parliament) after an election that led to an historic surge for Sinn Féin. Sinn Féin topped the first preference poll but its total of 37 seats is one fewer than that of Fianna Fáil. No single party has enough seats to govern.”[3].




RCIT response to the Situation




The RCIT in many of its documents has paid great attention to the policy of the Anti-Imperialist United Front which was first adopted and discussed by both Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky. As Marxist revolutionaries it is important to pay attention to any anti-imperialist struggle and for a number of years the IRA conducted such a military anti-imperialist struggle against British imperialism. The reactionary Blair government in 1998 negotiated the treacherous Good Friday Agreement with Gerry Adams, the then president of Sinn Féin, and others for a ceasefire which led to devolved powers to Northern Ireland.


“However, as Marxists know, in the long run petty-bourgeois parties cannot play an independent role. They have to follow either the working class – represented by a revolutionary mass party – or the bourgeoisie Similarly, various petty-bourgeois populist forces of the nationalist-type have played leading roles in the national liberation struggle of oppressed peoples in the semi-colonial world as well as in some imperialist countries The Sinn Fein/IRA in Northern Ireland, before its 1998 capitulation, is another example. Recently Sinn Fein, which has for a long time been an opposition party in the Republic of Ireland, has significantly increased its influence by playing a leading role in the Right2Water campaign, which has become the largest social movement in Ireland for decades in its struggle against the imposing of water fees by the government as part of its austerity program to make ordinary citizen pay for the crisis of the banks. In the latest election (2016), Sinn Fein received 13.8% of the votes cast becoming the third-biggest party in Ireland’s parliament.” [4]


This has now being confirmed with the latest developments in Sinn Féin’s favour.


The RCIT in Britain puts forward the following demands to unite the Irish working class, the oppressed and the poor.


* Give critical support for Sinn Féin and defend them against any attacks! However, no trust in the leadership of Sinn Féin which has betrayed the liberation struggle of the Irish people against Britain many times! Ensure in the event of a Sinn Féin Government that policies on anti-austerity and extensive social housing are carried out!


* Against any coalition government of Sinn Féin with bourgeois forces like Fine Gael or the Green Party!


* Campaign on water charges and pressure a Sinn Féin Government to cut prices for water and other commodities! Rally on the streets via protests and strikes to put pressure on such a government!


* Fight for a 32 County Workers Government!


* To end the need of Food Banks and to really resolve poverty once and for all, capitalism must be smashed! For a Socialist Transformation of Society – which can only happen via the working class and oppressed taking power through an armed uprising!


* Socialists should rally to build a revolutionary workers party in Ireland (including Northern Ireland) and fight for the 5th International!