There is a way to generate democratic consensus on the public finances – it is called a general election

What does political consensus mean? Does it require a common analysis? Why does the government want one? Is it really within the national interest? Is it a means for Fianna Fáil and the Greens to salvage some votes when an election occurs in a few months time? Is it fear of the EU Commission and finance markets? Is it to share responsibility for a 4 year risk plan of deflation and unemployment? Is it a reflection of a weak government trying to push through its last throw of the dice?  What about the citizens? What is the most democratic way to develop a national consensus? Is it not through a general election? Does a government not need a mandate to furnish a 4 year budget adjustment strategy? Do the people not deserve a public debate to assess different ideas, analysis, strategy and policy options amongst its political parties? Would it not be a serious indictment of our political parties, and alternative governments of the state, if they agreed on a 4 year fiscal budgetary plan? Is there not a real choice between reducing the budget deficit through cuts & deflation  and investment & taxation? Is this not a question of conflicting interests?  Is deliberation on competing arguments, theories and policies not central to the definition of  preference formation?  Is this an attempt to transfer the ‘consensus and shared understandings’ of social partnership to parliament? Was the Tallaght strategy in 1987 not agreed directly after a general election? If the Fianna Fail- Green coalition were genuinely interested in the common good should they not step aside from government and give the decision to the people who will actually pay for the crisis via a general election?

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