'Since New Year's Day , we've seen the unraveling of a pan-regional power structure akin to the collapse of the old Soviet Bloc, and now a sequence of epic disasters culminating in the triple whammy of once-in-a-millennium earthquake, giant tsunami, and the possibility of multiple nuclear meltdowns in northern Japan.' – Scott Smith , ' The Future is Here Today, and it's Superdense ' Photo by ecstaticist
'the study of economic and state systems at the edge of their normal social and economic function, including preventative measures to avoid destructive feedback loops and vicious cycles.' – The Institute for Collapsonomics Collapsonomics? Photo by Sean Wallis
Iceland and Ireland Small, Windswept Island Nations with Big Fragile Banks
'These corporate spaces are still pockmarked by industry, which in the context resembles a series of scattered ornaments, accidental or otherwise, creating a landscape which gets ever stranger the closer you get to the centre of it ...' – Owen Hatherley (on the Dublin Docklands)
Iceland, 2007/2009 Significant seat gains for the Left-Green Alliance Emergence of a loose, grassroots alliance of reformist MPs under the banner of the Citizen's Movement Elimination of the libertarian, eurosceptic Liberal Party Major losses for the conservative Independence Party – leading party in the previous government
Ireland, 2007/2011 Substantial boost in the number of Sinn Fein, New Vision, ULA and non-party TDs Near-total obliteration of Fianna Fáil; Ireland's dominant party, and leader of the previous government – widely perceived as having exacerbated the banking crisis
'What Ireland has rejected is (…) much clearer than what Ireland wants. The big winners were Enda Kenny's Fine Gael, which scooped more seats than ever before, although they received only 36% of the vote, rather less than their strongest past showings. Despite a good campaign, the lack of universal enthusiasm for Fine Gael is not hard to understand. Economic questions are the only questions that count in a country where a fifth of national income has just disappeared in a baffling burst of smoke from the blazing banks (…) Fianna Fáil has been deservedly eaten after the savage turn of the Celtic tiger that it rode for so long, but power has now passed to another party forged in the struggle for national sovereignty, which also has precious few plans for rescuing economic sovereignty today. The people who have said what they do not want have not been offered a clear alternative. It may not be long before they are once again scratching their heads, and asking – who elected the bankers? – Guardian Editorial , ' Irish elections: a vote cast in anger ', 28/02/2011
Post-Crisis Elections First Attempts at a General Taxonomy
Anti-incumbency sentiments <ul><li>Hypothesis: in the first election after a crisis event, the vote flees away from the parties previously in government
The vote flees equally in all directions, both left and right
Iceland 2009 saw an aggregate swing of 9.9% away from the ruling parties (Independence -12.9% / SDA +3%)
In Ireland 2011, the equivalent shift was 27.1% (FF -24.1% / Greens -2.9%)
Greece 2009: 8.38% swing away from the governing NDP </li></ul>
High churn <ul><li>Hypothesis: as a corollary of anti-incumbency sentiment, post-crisis politics also produces a substantial level of churn
Both at the level of party leadership ... and party existence ...
Iceland 2009 sees new leaders for 3/4 returned parties; eliminates the Liberal Party; and sees the birth of a grassroots political force (the Citizen's Movement)
Ireland 2011 – 3/5 new party leaders since 2007; demise of the Progressive Democrats and the Greens; birth of the ULA, and a substantial boost in the number of Independent TDs (from 5 to 13) </li></ul>
Turnout holds steady <ul><li>It may seem logical to presume that the dissatisfaction of post-crisis politics would have resulted in a disengaged electorate and, as such, a much-reduced election turnout
In practice, however, dissatisfaction with politicians doesn't manifest as dissatisfaction with the political process – instead, the desire to 'punish' those responsible took precedence, resulting in a relatively consistent turnout
Greece 2009: 70.9% (down from 74.1%) </li></ul>
Diagram by Nate Silver New political axes: a model
Trending left; independently-minded <ul><li>Borrowing from Nate Silver's ideological/institutional axes for front-runners in the US GOP primaries, the trend in Ireland and Iceland was not a simple swing to the left, but a swing left-&-down, toward the bottom of the chart
Apparent retrograde motion <ul><li>'Apparent retrograde motion is the motion of a planetary body in a direction opposite to that of other bodies within its system as observed from a particular vantage point.' (Wikipedia)
In both nations, the governments returned by post-crisis elections belie the true scale of the ideological shift
Iceland's electorate turfed the conservatives out of government, replacing their Independent/SDA coalition with a leftist government of social democrats and eco-socialists
Ireland roundly rejected both parties of their FF/Green government, returning a 'grand coalition' of Labour (centre-left) and Fine Gail (centre-right)
Hypothesis: the 'outsider' candidates – the Gnarrs, Flanagans, and Jónsdóttirs – are closer to the actual preferences of a post-crisis electorate </li></ul>
What Now? Conclusions; Questions; How to Move Forward
Concluding Questions <ul><li>What does a resilient electoral system look like?
If a diversity of voices aids systemic resilience, how can we undercut or circumvent the professionalization of European politics?
How durable are these left-outsider realignments? How specific to the context of small states in Northern Europe?
Assuming Brown's bail-outs and stimulus packages saved us from the rawest of collapse scenarios, but failed to fix any of the underlying weaknesses of the system, what happens when the second 'dip' discredits the next set of governing parties? Once they're cast into the wasteland, following the footprints of their predecessors, who do we have left?
What can the emergence of 'celebrity economists' in Ireland tell us about the role of the expert in a post-collapse environment? </li></ul>