'Growing support for restricted abortion'
David, I am not denying that FG got a hammering in the 2002 election and have had a resurgence in the 2007. My point is that the reason this happened was nothing to do with their stance on legislation on the X case. In 2002 Michael Noonan was seen as a poor leader for FG and Bertie was believed to be able to walk on water and the good times were rolling. The reason for the 2007 FG resurgence was people finally beginning to see the flaws with FF. Indeed FF were destined to lose the 2007 election, but FG ran such a terrible campaign the electorate stopped shy of ousting FF. Abortion was not at all an issue in the 2007 election and had little or nothing to do with the 2002 result. People do not vote in Gov on the basis of abortion. They vote for Govs for much more selfish reasons than that, mainly which Gov will give me the best lifestyle. They do not vote on the long-term altruistic stuff. As regards the next election, well nothing is certain in politics. FG virtually only had to turn up at the last election to win and yet by their disaster of a campaign they managed to lose. FF cannot win the next election, but FG can lose it, just like the 2007 election. I agree with your answer to why none of the parties want to touch abortion legislation.
JamesH: Abortion certainly was an issue in 2002. There was the referendum on “X” and the General Election followed immediately thereafter. Fianna Fail campaigned on a “no legislation in terms of X” position and Fine Gael expressed a willingness to legislate for “X”, as did Labour. FF increased its majority by 8 seats, from 77 to 81. Fine Gael lost a whopping 23 seats, down from 54 to 31. Labour went down from 21 to 20
But that one seat loss was especially striking for three reasons. The seat was Kerry North, one of Labour's few rural constituencies and the loser was no one other than Labour's most successful living leader, Dick Spring. Thirdly, the seat went to Sinn Fein's Martin Ferris
Since SF also favours widely-available abortion, this would seem to be no change, when it comes to that issue. But SF doesn't push that issue nearly so strongly as Labour does
And Kerry North had one of the highest “Yes” votes for the anti-abortion referendum that year. And it also had one of the most active “Pro-life No” campaigns in Ireland, so there was also probably one of the highest “Pro-life No” votes in that constituency too
Even then, the abortion issue may have accounted for only a handful of the votes which switched from Spring to Ferris (or from Spring to other candidates). But that was what Ferris won by, a handful of votes
And Labour lost another rural seat in Kerry South in 2007, that time to Fine Gael
And FG did reverse its 2002 position and took a, “no legislation in terms of X” position in 2007 gaining back, in numerical terms, 20 of the seats it had lost in 2002. But that victory also indicated a shift to a more rural base for FG
So, if this has mattered to voters, as little as you think it does, why do the leaders of the two largest parties both take a “no legislation in terms of X” position? And why is it that FG lost 23 seats, when it took the opposite position, in the aftermath of the 2002 anti-abortion referendum, but gained 20 seats while running on a “no legislation for X” position in 2007?
But I also effectively agreed that, (as you put it), “in reality this issue in not prying on the forefront of people's minds when the vote for their Gov.”, when I said, “Its the economy stupid”. But that doesn't mean that abortion is not a factor.
Because, as I also said, “Whatever their opinions on either side might be, the Irish people are sick to death of the kinds of debates, which erupt every time a referendum is held on this issue. So, it is political suicide for any party which seriously aspires to actual leadership to advocate another referendum on abortion. And that will go double in the next election...”
Do you still think my “analysis is flawed”? That's OK. Its essentially the analysis that the leaders of Fianna Fail act upon. And its the analysis that Enda Kenny and his Fine Gael team act upon. And FG will almost certainly lead the next government.
David, In your latest message no4, you again imply that people in general place a lot of value of political parties attitude to abortion, especially in your analysis of the reason Labour will not be the lead party in Gov is due to their stance on the X case. ie in your quote "But by appealing to that constituency, they condemn themselves eternally to being a party, which can only be a “junior partner” in any government". However in reality this issue in not prying on the forefront of people's minds when the vote for their Gov.
“Buzz” is essentially correct. But this is where the “Stopes Poll” becomes so suspect. Its results suggest that the Irish would support legalization of abortion in so many circumstances, that the word, “restricted” would become virtually meaningless in practical terms.
But the data which can be gleaned from the actual elections, which I cited in my previous post suggest that, as of 2002 anyway, the only real issue among the majority of voters was not WHETHER or not the “suicide loophole” created by the “X” decision, should be abolished, but HOW it should be abolished.
And, by the time of the 2007 Dail election, the leaders of Fianna Fail and Fine Gael had reached an effective consensus on how “X” should be rendered virtually ineffective, if not abolished outright; by their promise not to legislate in terms of “X”. And that was the decision of the people in this country who are (whatever else we may think of them) most politically astute; the FF and FG leaders.
And they know something that the “Stopes Poll” does not address. Whatever their opinions on either side might be, the Irish people are sick to death of the kinds of debates, which erupt every time a referendum is held on this issue. So, it is political suicide for any party which seriously aspires to actual leadership to advocate another referendum on abortion. And that will go double in the next election; “Its the economy, stupid!”
There have only been two parties, which have actually led governments since the foundation of this state; FF and FG. Labour has a constituency, which makes it attractive for them to advocate expanded abortion. But by appealing to that constituency, they condemn themselves eternally to being a party, which can only be a “junior partner” in any government.
David, Your analysis of the 2002 election is interesting but flawed. Abortion was not an election issue in 2002 or 2007 elections. A tiny minority would have voted on the basis of party policies on abortion and certainly the FG recovery in 2007 had nothing whatsoever to do with abortion.
The emphasis should be on the word "restricted"...something which the pro abortion brigade seem to gloss over!
A poll on abortion commissioned by the Marie Stopes “Clinics” indicating increased support for abortion in Ireland is suspect in the same way that a poll showing support for later pub closing times commissioned by the Irish Vintners Association would be suspect. Abortion is the main way that the Stopes make their money. And the results of this poll are just preposterous.
First fact: Had the most recent Irish anti-abortion referendum in 2002 passed, it would have closed the “suicide loophole” created by the 1992 “X” case, which would have restricted the availability of abortion even more than it is now. In practical terms, it is impossible to obtain an abortion for any reason, EVEN the reason permitted (in theory anyway) by “X”.
That referendum was defeated but only by a margin of 50.42% No, to 49.58% Yes --and the “No” vote included a so-called, “Pro-Life No” vote. There was no scientific analysis of that referendum's vote; but so-called “Christian” parties and others, who advocated the so-called, “Pro-Life No” position in the 2002 referendum[ gained first preference votes of around 2.5% in every seat they contested in the subsequent Dail election.
And there were other factors; especially, Fine Gael, which has a very strong anti-abortion ethos, advocated a “No” vote in that referendum. And many who would also describe themselves as “pro-life” or "anti-abortion" voted against that referendum out of party loyalty.
Second fact: The Taoiseach then, Bertie Ahern, said that the failure of that (FF sponsored) referendum, did not mean a mandate for legislating in terms of the “X”case and ran on a a promise not to legislate in terms of “X” in the Dail election immediately subsequent. And that election was a banner one for Fianna Fail, while it was one of the worst elections in history for Fine Gael. And Labour, which also opposed the referendum on clear “pro-choice” (pro-abortion) grounds, also lost seats in that election.
Third fact: However Fine Gael ran in the 2007 Dail election on a promise not to legislate for “X” (as did Fianna Fail) and won back 20 additional seats; a stunning FG victory. Labour, on the other hand, which promised to legislate for “X” and generally advocated a pro-choice position, lost one seat. But something else is also noticeable; the net results of the 2002 and 2007 Dail elections meant that Labour lost nearly all of its rural seats. And, since FG's 2007 result, while stunning numerically did not regain their previous urban seats. So they are now a mostly rural party, while Labour is an almost entirely urban party.
Of course the results would be radically different if an election was held soon, but that is because of the economic collapse and has nothing to do with abortion attitudes. And since FG will almost certainly retain its “no legislation for X” position and will be the dominant party in an almost certain FG/Labour coalition, there will almost certainly be no change on abortion in the next Dail either.
It is probably true that the Irish are less opposed to abortion now than they were in 2002 or even 2007. But even if that is true, a shift as radical as that indicated by the Marie Stopes-sponsored poll is just impossible to credit.