Time to blow the whistle, this game is over.
Today’s poll results remind me of a famous soccer team in Tallinn, Estonia, which Scotland won after just three seconds of play – the Estonian team hadn’t turned up, so the ref abandoned the game and awarded it to the Scots as the Tartan Army sang “There’s Only One Team In Tallinn” and danced in the empty stands.
With neither Labour or Sinn Féin able to make the breakthrough necessary to fully bury the Party of Dev and put it up to Fianna Fáil, the coronation of Enda has begun.
If the raft of opinion polls are to be believed, this time next week Fine Gael will have won the general election and will be seeking to form a minority government held together by support from independents.
How bitterly ironic that an election fought on a platform of politcal reform could well deliver exactly the type of parish pump politics we sought to remove ourselves from as Enda and company scramble to deliver hospital wings and youth employment schemes to tighten their grip on power. But there might be grounds for optimism.
Previously, the independents (with a few notable exceptions) were made up of former party faithful who had either walked or been given the boot for some indiscretion; but regardless of who did the jilting, their party loyalties usually remained firm.
That is not something that Enda Kenny and his cohorts can count on this time around. The independents that are likley to invade the Dáil are political ingenues, new to the game and oblivious to the need to support everything the government asks to remain in power.
As such they are much more likely to jump out of the cauldron long before Enda brings it to the boil. Power in Ireland is hard-won, but they will not fear a snap election; Enda will.
It was an indication of the political shallowness of the Taoiseach-in-waiting to see him grandstanding for the faithful at Landsdowne Road today. After 35 years keeping another teacher out of a permanent job, His Graciousness has finally decided to step down.
And in a very magnanimous gesture, he has decided not to accept a one hundred thousand euro pension for a job he barely did, instead throwing down the gauntlet to those leaving jobs that they had actually done to forego their entitlements. In Enda’s world, this is politics; in the wider world, he will be eaten alive.
He just gave away a hundred thousand euro of his own money without a fight- Ollie Rehn must be dancing on the table. But however much Ollie is looking forward to repeating the three-card trick he pulled on Brian Lenihan, he may not get the chance to do so.
It wouldn’t be wise to go putting away your voting cards just yet. This election may be all but over, but the crisis that precipitated it, and Ireland’s more general malaise, remains more threatening than ever.
Kenny hasn’t the sense to woo Labour into a more stable setup, and in not doing so he will put himself at the mercy of people more principled than he.
This in turn will guarantee an early return to the polls, where he will risk the anger of a people who have already had too much of this nonsense. The people want solutions, the politicians want power, and as it stands the two are mutually exclusive.
This game might be over, but the season is only just beginning.
Hopefully by the next time an election comes around, those of us who live outside the republic will have a chance to vote– visit ballotbox.ie for more details.