Thursday, 9 June 2011

A DUP Sinn Fein Coalition Government?

Over the recent months there have been many changes and shifts that have altered the landscape of the political battleground, because of these it could be possible that Northern Ireland could see a Sinn Fein/DUP coalition Government.

As mentioned in the previous post on this blog, The DUP and Sinn Fein appear to have figured out a way of peaceful co-operation, which has been allowed to emerge thanks to the SNP victory in Scotland and the Republic's Economic problems. The nature of the relationship appears to be the the DUP will focus more on British Constitutional issues and handle Northern Irish Economics, while Sinn Fein focuses on Economic issue in the Republic and social issues in Northern Ireland, thus allowing both parties room to shine and opportunities to work together without unnecessary confrontations.

Because of this ability to work together despite the obvious ideological differences, this has not stopped the Minor Northern Irish parties, The UUP and SDLP, pushing for the apparatus for an official opposition. The only theory I can think would the UUP and SDLP believed that the DUP and Sinn Fein would be so wholly opposed to the idea of being left together in Coalition that that would offer the UUP/SDLP some concessions but instead found the DUP/Sinn Fein not very bothered by the prospect of working together.

Should the apparatus be allowed for voluntary coalition in Northern Ireland a Sinn Fein/DUP coalition could form which would have majority, an idea however would be to further marginalise their opponents by bringing the Alliance party into coalition to take the Justice ministry which could also help to maintain harmony within the New government by removing a potential fight between the two larger parties.

SNP Versus DUP: Round 1

In an earlier post on this blog I discussed how the SNP may have to face down the Unionist Power-house that is the DUP, and lo and behold following the tri-lateral meeting between the Devolved First Ministers Peter Robinson launches torpedo assault on Alex Salmond's plans to get Corporate tax Powers Devolved.
This opening barrage from the DUP head is not only significant in the coming issues surrounding UK constitutional debates but also perhaps shows how the new Northern Irish Assembly will operate.

Peter Robinson's very public criticism of Alex Salmond can be seen as a two-pronged assault on the Nationalist aspiration of Scotland's #1. First Robinson kicked the shins of Salmond's goal of corporation tax by pointing out that it would take a huge chunk out of the Scottish block grant and followed that up by explaining that the only reason Northern Ireland would be likely to receive some taxation powers was because they represent a 'Special Case' due to it being the only part of the UK that has a Non-UK neighbour in the form of the Republic of Ireland and that it's history of conflict having negatively affected infrastructure development.
In essence Peter Robinson told Alex Salmond that if he wanted powers he needed a new neighbour and 30+ years of sectarian violence rather than occasional outburst at an Old Firm game.

But what is perhaps more interesting is what we can glean about how the main Northern Irish parties have adapted post-Vote 2011.

The DUP have decided to slowly change their identity from the old-school catch all Unionism to a Low-Tax Pro-Business party while maintaining their Unionist tendencies, which can be seen in their Executive seat choices of Finance and Enterprise, Sinn Fein have realised that if they are to build on their success in the south they can not be seen as the party that rejects cuts in the republic but delivers them in the North and sop have allowed the DUP to focus on Finance while they take on more social roles, which can be seen in the fact they took education and culture and that while Peter Robinson took on Salmond on Tax, McGuinness focused on sectarianism.

This is perhaps a way that Sinn Fein and the DUP have realised how they can operate in Government without having to constantly try to score points against each other, The DUP can focus on the SNP and British Economic Problems while Sinn Fein can focus on Irish Economic Matters and altering their image in the Republic. By doing so, they can avoid stepping on each others toes and can work together when their goals match.