New Irish government on EU collision course
Ireland’s new government is headed for confrontation with Brussels after the country’s ruling party was wiped out on Saturday by voters in a huge popular backlash against a European-IMF austerity programme.
By Bruno Waterfield
26 Feb 2011
Exit polls and early tallies from Ireland’s general election heralded political annihilation for Fianna Fail (FF), the party which has ruled Ireland for more than 60 years of the Irish Republic’s eight decades of independence.
The unprecedented and historic defeat, Fianna Fail’s worst result in 85 years, makes the Irish government the first eurozone administration to be punished by voters in the aftermath of the EU’s debt crisis. Voter turn-out was exceptionally high at more than 70 per cent, indicating public anger at the government and the EU.
Late last year, Ireland was forced to accept a £72 billion EU-IMF bailout to cover huge public debts that were ran up to save failed Irish banks.
The bail-out was designed to prevent financial contagion that threatened the existence of the euro, but according to economic forecasts, the cost of servicing Irish bank debt and the EU-IMF bank loans will consume 85 per cent of Ireland’s income tax revenue by 2012, a burden that a majority of voters find intolerable.