Friday, May 18, 2007


Enda vs Bertie - Who won?

Well the much-hyped debate between Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny took place Thursday evening and overall I'd say it was a decent, straightforward affair.

Was it a bruising encounter? No. Did it have the energy of Wednesday night's debate? No. It did in my mind however serve a purpose and I found it a welcome exchange in helping me make up my mind for next week's election.

Obviously the big question is - who won out? In my opinion Kenny just shaded it. I would say though that this was more to do with Ahern producing a fairly lacklustre performance rather than Kenny wowing me. I felt Kenny did well however and that he produced a suitable performance. Below you'll find a more detailed account of how I thought each man did...

Enda Kenny - Fine Gael

Having stated already that I will be seeking a change of government, going into this debate I was looking for three things from Enda Kenny - an impassioned account of his party's policies, a well-reasoned argument on why a change of government is so sorely needed, as well as a performance that presented him as a man who could realistically lead this country. I felt he delivered on all three areas. He gave a strong defence of Fine Gael's aims, he articulated very well what a disaster Fianna Fáil's spell in power has been (particularly on health) and in contrast to his predecessor Michael Noonan, he came across like a guy who could realistically run the Republic of Ireland and run it well.

Having said that I would have liked him to have gone for Ahern's jugular when the subject of his personal finances came up but that's a small gripe on my part.

My rating

Four out of five. A slick effort which refreshingly had substance to back it up.

Election performance

My own calculations last week had Fine Gael taking 50 seats, giving them an increase of 18 and making them the party which would profit most at Fianna Fáil's expense. However when I added up my numbers and added them to the numbers I worked out for Labour and the Greens, it only came to 79 which would not be enough to form a government. I really hope Fine Gael end up taking more seats than 50 but we shall see how things go. Kenny's performance in the debate won't do him any harm by my reckoning.

Bertie Ahern - Fianna Fáil

For a guy who has been getting stick from the national media, the public and even his junior partners in government, this was a very respectable performance. I was particularly keen on seeing how Ahern would handle the issue of his finances. As much as I don't believe a word of his explanation on that matter, I felt it was nonetheless a deft explanation on his part rather than a daft one. Having said all that I felt it was a pretty lethargic performance from the Taoiseach. Someone texted in to RTE saying they felt Ahern looked "jaded". I think that's an apt description of his performance. Ahern I felt lacked the fire in his belly that I've seen him show on previous public exchanges. I'm not sure whether that was down to Enda Kenny or whether it was the furore about his personal finances catching up with him, but tonight the Taoiseach did nothing for me.

People are stuck on trolleys, crime is going out of control and yet Ahern was left repeating promises he'd made years ago. Promises which he hasn't kept. I thought Kenny came out with a good line when he said, "Taoiseach are you not embarrassed repeating promises you made ten years ago?"

Not a bad performance from Ahern by any means but he could have done a lot better.

My rating

3 out of 5. Disappointing display. He was bested on this occasion.

Election performance

As I stated last week, the way I have it worked out Fianna Fáil will take 68 seats and since I have the PDs ending up with 3 seats that would leave Fianna Fáil and the PDs unable to form a government again. I have Labour taking 20 seats and if that's how things turn out, Fianna Fáil and Labour could form a government together as they'd have 88 seats by my figures which would be well enough. However, Labour leader Pat Rabbitte has stated that he will not do a deal with Ahern as he wants an alternative so my calculations have things looking very messy indeed if that's how things actually pan out. I hope instead that Fianna Fáil take a real hammering in this election and that it will be a smooth transition into an alternative government. On this occasion I'm willing my figures to be wrong!

Final thoughts

I'm not sure what effect, if any, this debate will have on how the election goes. Personally speaking my mind is well and truly made up and I'll be backing the alternative government. Interestingly, I just nipped over to Paddy Power's Irish Election and according to them:

"Enda Kenny is consolidating his position as the odds-on 8/11 favourite to become next Taoiseach. Bertie Ahern has drifted to 11/8, his longest odds of the campaign to date.

"Punters are also putting their money behind the 'Alternative Government', which is now the Even money favourite for success."

I don't always trust opinion polls but I do tend
to trust the Bookies and this news pleases me greatly. I'm hopeful that by the end of this month Enda Kenny will be Taoiseach and that Fianna Fáil and the PDs will be out of office.

Roll on election day.


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