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Electoral competition in Ireland since 1987The politics of triumph and despair$
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Gary Murphy

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780719097652

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719097652.001.0001

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Of constitutional and economic crusades: Ireland in the 1980s

Of constitutional and economic crusades: Ireland in the 1980s

(p.9) 1 Of constitutional and economic crusades: Ireland in the 1980s
Electoral competition in Ireland since 1987

Gary Murphy

Manchester University Press

This chapter assesses the crises of the 1980s. Throughout the mid-1980s Ireland went through a ruinous recession which saw unemployment and emigration reach levels not seen since the 1950s. The Fine Gael Labour government of 1982-87 unable to get a handle on either problem eventually came to an end when Labour withdrew from office forcing an election in February 1987 in which both parties performed poorly. Falling just two seats short of an overall majority Fianna Fáil were the largest party and embarked on a political journey which aimed to restore the state's financial position by promoting a twin pronged approach of social partnership and foreign direct investment. This chapter assesses the Ireland of 1987, examines the general election of that year and analyses the birth of the process of social partnership widely seen as being the launchpad for two decades of macro-economic stability which provided the conditions for economic success in Ireland. It also assesses the complex relationship between the state and its citizens regarding the moral questions of abortion and divorce that convulsed Irish society in the 1980s leading to a number of deeply divisive referendums.

Keywords:   Social Partnership, Recession, Abortion, Divorce, Crisis of the 1980s

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