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Wednesday 8 February 2023 Dublin: 5°C
Julien Behal/PA Archive If Labour goes into power with Fine Gael, the resulting coalition would claim over 110 seats of the Dáil's 166.
# GE11
Big governments "are not strong governments" - the academic take
Ferdinand von Prondzynski suggests a Fine Gael-Labour coalition may become quickly frayed at the edges.

ONE OF THE COUNTRY’S leading academics has suggested that the prospect of a government faced with a small opposition can become weak in power, when faced with no significant threats to their majorities.

Ferdinand von Prondzynski, former president of DCU, said the success of the next Dáil would be dependant on whether Fianna Fáil could “carry out their role [in opposition] with a degree of self-confidence.”

“If they feel able to exercise the role of opposition in a reasonably coherent and confident manner,” von Prondzynski said, the dynamics of the next Dáil would not be much more different than the previous one, where the government majority had become razor-thin by the time of dissolution.

But if Fianna Fáil’s confidence turned out to be “shelled by what’s happened,” von Prondzynski added, the next government would find itself without any major obstacles in the Dáil – with just the 15-or-so Sinn Féin TDs and technical groupings standing in the way of unanimity.

The effectiveness of the next government, as a result, would depend on “how disciplined” a Fine Gael-Labour coalition would be with its majority, with such a coalition being able to withstand as many as 30 defections without threat to its legislative power.

“Governments with big majorities are not strong governments,” von Prondzynski felt. “In a large majority, [parties] become quite lazy and it doesn’t matter if people are on the margins.

“Charles Haughey’s [minority] government in 1987 was the best he ever lead – they pushed through the Programme for National Recovery.

“Of all the Haughey governments, and all the Fianna Fáil governments, it was the most active – but it had no majority.”

Gilmore won’t be drawn on coalition talks with FG >

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