Assessing the Irish General Election of 2011 : a Roundtable
On February 25, 2011, Irish voters went to the polls to elect the members of the 31st assembly of Dáil Éireann, who would in turn form a new government. Given the devastation of the Irish economy and the controversial bank bailout and subsequent intervention by the International Monetary Fund a few months before, it surprised no one that Fianna Fáil was swept from power. Even so, there was a consensus that the change in the Irish political landscape was one of historic dimensions. Commentators fumbled for comparisons; some likened the results to the 1918 elections, when Sinn Féin demolished the Irish Parliamentary Party, while others compared it to 1932, when Fianna Fáil first assumed power and stayed there for most of the next eighty years. Whatever the eventual ranking of history may be, the February results were unprecedented in modern Irish history. New Hibernia Review has convened a roundtable of historians and political scientists to sift through the contexts, and the possible consequences, of the 2011 election. The four scholars whose remarks appear below conducted their "conversation" by e-mail in June and July 2011.