By-election landslide for Sinn Fein

Issue 

Irish election officials said on November 26 that Sinn Fein candidate Pearse Doherty had won a long-awaited by-election in Donegal with an overwhelming 40% of the vote.

The election was blocked for months before it was forced on Prime Minister Brian Cowen by the Irish courts.

Cowen faces a struggle to win votes on raising taxes and cutting spending when the 2011 budget is unveiled in parliament on December 7.

His task will be made no easier by the election of Doherty who is already committed to opposing the cuts and whose election has reduced Cowen's majority in the parliament to two.

Sinn Fein said that two of its TDs (members of parliament) had met representatives of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Thursday and told them “they are neither wanted nor needed in Ireland”.

The Green Party allies of the Cowen’s Fianna Fail party have announced that they are pulling out of the ruling coalition, but will stand by the coalition until the austerity measures are passed into law.

Fears that Fianna Fail may not be able to hold the line were reflected on the markets on November 25 as yields on Ireland's bonds reached a new euro-era high.

Speculators keep dumping the nation's debt securities and Irish bank shares are falling again in expectation that they face even greater state ownership.

The negative market trends were sparked by reports that an international bailout loan for Ireland could include an effort to make Ireland's senior bondholders — chiefly foreign banks — swallow losses in the country's debt-crippled banks.

The Irish Times said that an agreement on an €85 billion International Monetary Fund-European Union loan could be announced on November 28, just a week after Ireland formally applied for financial rescue.

[Abridged from Morning Star.]