Result may spell the end for PDs

Announcing his retirement from politics yesterday evening after the loss his seat in Dublin South East, Progressive Democrats leader Michael McDowell said that the PDs must be a party that is 'radical or redundant'. With further losses for deputy leader, Liz O'Donnell, and party president, Tom Parlon, and with former Fianna Failer and Minister for Health, Mary Harney, the only PD elected to the 30th Dail at the time of writing, the disbandment of the party must surely be a possibility.


The disastrous performance of the party in this general election - the poorest in the party's 22 year history (see history below) - raises questions about the practicalities of keeping a political party with such poor Dail representation afloat. The funding and support required to run political campaigns in local, European and general elections will suffer, and some analaysts predict a PD decline similar to that of Clann na Poblachta in the 1950s.  

Political analysts today profferred the scenario of Mary Harney leaving the PDs to  rejoin Fianna Fail. Mary Harney has expressed a strong desire to return to the Dail as Minister for Health, and while this would seem improbable given the PDs' negotiating power, Fianna Fail deputies speaking to the media today credited Harney's work in the ministry over the past two and a half years and remained open to her retention of the post. Bertie Ahern has  meanwhile kept all options open in choosing partners for the next government and has stressed 'stability' as the key factor.   

Harney entered politcs as a Fianna Fail candidate in the 1977 general election and although unelected, she was appointed to the Seanad that year by Taoiseach Jack Lynch. A leading member of the so-called Gang of 22, Harney was later expelled from Fiann Fail in 1985 after voting in favour of the Anglo-Irish Agreement and became a founding member of the PDs under the leadership of Desmond O'Malley.  

Election - Number of PD Seats
1985         14
1987         6
1992         10
1997         4
2002         8
2007         1

(correction - the PDs now have 2 seats)