BY A SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT THE result of the Irish Republic's General Election has been to strengthen the position of Mr. Jack Lynch and Fianna Fail, though their share of the poll dropped from 48 per cent in 1965 to 45 per cent this time. But they are still "on probation."
Fianna Fail again returned to office with 75 seats (one more than last time), followed by Fine Gael with 50, Labour with 18, and one Independent. Though the newly-dynamised Labour Party won them glittering prizes in Dublin, it secured no more than eight seats in the countryside. But the traditional Irish "establishment" is on the way out, and what is left is under fire. Giants of the past like Costello, Lemass and Dillon are out of the parliamentary scene, and the new Government will be confronted by a highpowered opposition. Fianna Fail had not been expected to do so well. It had been soundly thrashed in the referendum over its proposals to abolish proportional representation, recent results in the local elections were poor, and there had been trouble over the Criminal Justice Bill which would reduce rights of assembly and demonstration. The economic position was also recently worsened.
But the country seems to have recoiled from the prospect of coalition or minority Government, and Fianna Fail secured advantages by re-drawing the constituency boundaries, with the result that many fouror five-seat constituencies, favouring the smaller parties, were replaced by three-seaters.
If, however, the new Government fails to rejuvenate itself and the nation, the next election will be its undoing. By then, President De Valera will have gone too.