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So, How’s That Austerity Working Out?

Update from the BBC: Ireland’s Green Party quits government of Brian Cowen. This will probably require the election being moved forward to February.

The BBC reports that Irish PM Brian Cowen steps down as Fianna Fail leader

Irish PM Brian Cowen has said he is stepping down as leader of the ruling Fianna Fail party but will continue to run the government until the general election on 11 March.

Mr Cowen said the focus of the election should be policy and not personality.

In a week of political crises, Mr Cowen first survived a party leadership vote but was forced to call the election after a bungled cabinet reshuffle.

The BBC is being kind. The “bungled cabinet reshuffle” was half dozen ministers quitting their jobs.

Henry McDonald, Ireland correspondent for the Guardian reports that Fianna Fáil braced for election defeat

Fianna Fáil will lose more than half of its 71 seats in the Dáil, party advisers warned today, as its members prepare for a general election defeat.

The party, which has dominated Irish politics for much of the Republic’s history, will be lucky to return to the Irish parliament with 30 seats, said a source in Fianna Fáil, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

History will also be made on the other side of the Republic’s political divide, with a potential Fine Gael/Labour party alternative government gaining a majority of at least 30 seats – the highest for any rival coalition since the state was founded in 1921.

The Irish voters are angry. The government leapt in and guaranteed the bad paper that Irish banks had sold, and are now cutting everything they can find to pay back a loan they took out to cover the banks’ debts.

It’s like being forced to pay someone else’s bar tab, and then told you have to have the miscreant’s hangover too – you had none of the fun but must be responsible for all of the pain.

If I were a Fianna Fáil strategist, I would be working like hell to make this election about the personality of Brian Cowen, rather than the policies of the party.

January 22, 2011   2 Comments

Water, Water Everywhere

This ABC report gives you a better feel for the scope of the problem: Inland sea menaces Victorian towns

Victorians are being warned that a massive moving inland sea is expected to threaten towns in the state’s north and north-west for up to 10 more days.

Floodwaters are now heading for the Murray River town of Swan Hill, which is bracing to be hit sometime today.

The peak is expected to last through the weekend.

The state’s flood crisis is about to enter its third week and according to authorities it still has a long way to go.

It is estimated the moving inland sea is 90 kilometres long and 40 kilometres wide.

Try to imagine that much water moving inexorably through your area, and you will have a feeling for what the Australians are facing. Sump pumps and bailing aren’t going to get it.

This is how the Australian equivalent of governors deal with disasters: Bligh slings mud in flood clean-up

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh has joined the thousands of volunteers out today cleaning up Brisbane and Ipswich.

The Premier donned a pair of gumboots and joined members of her running group in a working bee at an apartment complex in the inner-city suburb of West End.

Covered in muck, Ms Bligh wielded a shovel to help clean out one of the courtyards in the complex, and was too busy to talk to the media.

I don’t think taking a vacation to a theme park is going to be on her agenda for a while. This is what leaders do – they set an example by their personal conduct.

January 22, 2011   2 Comments