So, there are a lot of serving TDs who will not be contesting the coming election, the vast majority of them being from Fianna Fail.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure this out. They know that they face a hell of a battle simply to be reflected. They know that if elected, they will be in opposition for probably two terms at the very least. They know that by the time Fianna Fail’s time in power comes round again, they’ll be old men.
So they go now, free of the risk of electoral embarrassment. The question is, what kind of effect will this have for Fianna Fail? Is it a disaster or a boon?
The disaster theory is simple: Fianna Fail’s main players are abandoning ship, and the party will suffer from that lack of experience. Those loyal supporters of specific TDs on a local level may abandon the party.
I don’t quite buy it. The absence of these people, who are stained with the mess of the last few years, can’t be seen as too much of a bad thing by Fianna Fail.
It gives newer, hopefully younger, people the chance to go for seats. It allows these candidates the chance to be able to say “I had nothing to do with the last few years” for as much as that will help (little, in most cases). O’ Domhnaill tried this angle in the Donegal by-election and it did help to deflect some of the obvious criticisms coming his way. It’ll help Martin and his quest to give the party a makeover, make it “New Fianna Fail”. It can’t be a bad thing. Most of those new candidates will probably not win, but they’ll make names for themselves for future elections. It has to be about the long game for Fianna Fail, setting these people up for 2016 and beyond.
I do think that it will cost Fianna Fail some seats, but not a gigantic total. And the reasons for those losses will run deeper then a change of face.