Ireland Swerves Left

Northern Ireland politician Gerry Adams, president of the Sinn Fein party, has announced he will run for a seat in the Irish Parliament. Julien Behal / PA-AP

Whether the Irish bailout saves the country from ruin, one winner is already emerging. Free-market parties Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have dominated the country’s politics for more than 60 years, but the economy’s nosedive is now throwing power to the left: support for the Irish Labour Party is up significantly—now at more than 30 percent.

In the running is also Sinn Féin, the party best known as the onetime political wing of the IRA in Northern Ireland. Always a champion of hard-left politics, Sinn Féin has in the last few weeks won a parliamentary by-election, and party president Gerry Adams (left) said he’ll run for the Dáil. But it’s unlikely Sinn Féin can replicate its success nationwide in the general election expected early next year: its support is still too patchy. Pollsters say Labour is likely to join a coalition with right-of-center Fine Gael. Expect noisy critiques of free-market assumptions, and watch Ireland struggle to retain its reputation as the natural home for overseas corporations in Europe.