Free Market Party

Free Market Party
Páirtí Margadh Saor in Aisce
Founded1983
Dissolved2019
Youth wingFree Youth
IdeologyLaissez-faire
Right-wing populism
Conservatism
Nationalism
Eucloscepticism
Political positionRight-wing
Euclean Parliament groupAlliance of Euclean Nationalists
Colours     Gold,      Black

The Free Market Party (Ghaillish: Páirtí Margadh Saor in Aisce; PMSA) was a right-wing populist political party in Caldia. The party described itself as socially conservative with a nationalist and free market foundation, though it has been characterized by some as far-right, national-conservative, and anti-immigration. The party was involved in a series of controversies, most notably regarding the 2016 Spálgleann Attacks. It faced significant losses in the 2017 Comhthionól election where the party saw its seat count and primary vote share collapse. A number of PMSA politicians began to defect from the party, joining other parties or forming new ones. The party voted to dissolve itself before the 2019 snap election.

It was founded in 1984 by the economist Eoin Ó Corráin who was dissatisfied with the nation's approach to Euclea. Originally a single-issue Euclosceptic party, over the years the party platform was expanded to appeal to the broader right wing. The party was known for its Eucloscepticism and actively worked against the Euclean Community. It was staunchly opposed to the euclo and called for Caldia to leave the Euclozone. In 2005, the Caldish Independence Party split off from the party as some of its members became disenfranchised with the new platform. Internal party fights saw a second split and the formation of the National Party in 2017. The party has since began to strengthen its appeal with white working class voters, who most of its policies are tailored to. The party saw its highest support in the Highlands and historically industrial centres such as Shanbally.

It was the first right-wing populist party to enter the Tionól since the Liberty Party in the 1937 general election. Unlike the Liberty Party, the Free Market Party continued to move gradually to the right while it was in the Tionól.

History

Foundation

The Free Market Party was first registered with the Electoral Commission in September 1983. It was established by Eoin Ó Corráin, a well-known economist who closely advised the government of Patricia Flowers. Ó Corráin was a strong supporter of a free market and laissez-faire economic policy. He had a high public profile as a former adviser to Flowers, frequently acting as a spokesperson for her government on economic issues. After Flowers' decision to sign the Treaty of Vesalla and commit to the Euclozone, Ó Corráin resigned as an adviser and spoke out against the government. Other prominent allies of Flowers who thought membership in the Euclozone would see Caldia transition to a social democracy and the loss of sovereignty over the phasing out of its national currency, the Crown. Several of them resigned from the Flowers Government over the euclo and subsequently left the party.

The PMSA was initially founded as a single-issue party in opposition to Caldish membership in the Euclozone and maintained a general distaste for the greater Euclean Community. Ó Corráin was a vocal critic of the Gaullican social market economic model, taking a strong stance against government policies aimed at creating a strong welfare state and equal opportunity. He also supported privatization of government owned companies and some government services, such as infrastructure maintenance. However, he decided a non-ideological single-issue party was the easiest way to build pressure against the government. The party first contested the 1987 election but failed to make significant headway and received fewer than 5,000 votes.

In the Tionól (2002-2016)

Áine Ní Raghallaigh (2002-2005)
Seán Mac Diarmaid (2005-2009)
Pádraigín Ní Baoighill (2009-2016)

The party won two constituency based seats in the 2002 general election. Despite the breakthrough, Ó Corráin resigned in September 2002 after a heart-attack. He was replaced by the party's only other TC, Áine Ní Raghallaigh. His exit saw a shift away from being a single-issue party. Ní Raghallaigh introduced right-wing economic policy to the party's platform. She was ousted in a leadership battle in 2005 when Shanbally county commissioner Seán Mac Diarmaid defeated her. He adopted right-wing positions on cultural issues and a more extreme position on immigration. While the party had initially opposed immigration on economic grounds, Mac Diarmaid began to make cultural and religious arguments against it. His rhetoric and populist tendencies saw support for the party grow. Liberty's shift towards the political centre and social liberalism under Alexis Walker allowed the party to build support among social conservatives who were skeptical of Walker. In the 2007 general election, where it managed to win 17 seats and significantly increased its percentage of the vote share. Walker lost her majority but formed a coalition with the Centre Party.

With an increased parliamentary group, Mac Diarmaid began to receive increased media coverage and the party was able to further expand its support. It argued that the 2005 Global Financial Crisis was caused by the centralization of Euclean economies under the Euclozone and the Euclean Central Bank. It began to associate with right-wing parties throughout the EC and officially joined the Alliance of Euclean Nationalists. Despite the shift-right, the party still had some centrist tendencies and softer positions on certain issues. While Mac Diarmaid drew controversy to the party, support continued to build. In September 2009, TRN reported that Mac Diarmaid exploited migrant workers at his small chain of grocery stores. Employees were illegally underpaid and forced to work too many hours. Mac Diarmaid denied the claims against the company, which he left after becoming a TC in 2007. The party's right-wing faction became increasingly frustrated with his leadership. He was challenged by Pádraigín Ní Baoighill for the party leadership and was ousted in November 2009. Shortly after, he left the party and was forced into a by-election where he was defeated by the PMSA candidate.

Under Ní Baoighill, the party became increasingly populist. As Liberty continued to lose the support of conservatives, the PMSA continued to build its right-wing base. The party performed well in the 2010 county elections and took control of two county commissions. It entered the Seanad for the first time in 2011, winning two of the twenty six county seats. Ní Baoighill became a controversial but popular leader and let the party to its greatest electoral success in 2012 when it won a total of 44 seats. The Liberty-Centre coalition lost its minority, and Ní Baoighill supported the Walker government by abstaining on confidence and budget votes. Facing criticism from within the party for her decision, Ní Baoighill argued it would allow support for the party to continue to build as voters became dissatisfied with Walker and Liberty. She also said that preventing a socialist government was a victory for the party.

Downfall (2016-2019)

The party has a strong showing in the 2016 seanad elections, winning three of the elected seats. It also increased its vote margin significantly in a number of counties, where it placed second or third. Opinion polls continued to show support for the party grow in the polls, getting as high as 19%. However, the way the party responded to the 2016 Spálgleann Attacks began to mark a shift in support for the PMSA dropping. Ní Baoighill gave a live interview in the immediate aftermath of the attacks and blamed it on foreign-born extremists, hinting that they practiced Irfan. Violence soon broke out in Shanbally in a neighborhood of the city with a significant immigrant population. Ní Baoighill was condemned in a joint statement issued by all other party leaders for her comments. Caldish authorities later announced it was a small group of far-right extremists who had conducted the attacks. Two of those responsible had ties to the PMSA, with one being a current member and one a former party candidate for Shanbally City Council. Amid growing criticism from the press and pressure from within her party, Ní Baoighill submitted her resignation.

Saorla Ní Chadhla was party leader from 2016-17 and oversaw the party's decline.

Saorla Ní Chadhla was elected as party leader following a postal ballot. She defeated Liam Ó Cuillinn, an MEP, and TC Bairre Ó Raghallaigh. Ó Cuillinn was more in line with Ní Baoighill and was expected to maintain the status quo while Ó Raghallaigh campaigned on bringing the party back to its anti-Euclozone roots. Ní Chadhla pledged to move the party further to the right on a number of issues including healthcare, unionized labor, and education. Her extreme positions on these issues alarmed rivals within the party. Ó Cuillinn became a vocal critic of the new leader, expressing his concerns that she would isolate the working class support the party had built up since the 2005 Financial Crisis. He was expelled from the party in January 2017 for criticizing Ní Chadhla. Ó Raghallaigh left the party in protest of Ó Cuillinn's expulsion soon after.A group of four TCs published an open letter in An Náisiúnach further criticizing Ní Chadhla for her positions, rhetoric, and the expulsion of Ó Cuillinn in February. These TCs were also expelled from the party. Less than a week after their expulsion, they joined Ó Cuillinn and Ní Baoighill in forming a new political party known as the National Party. They began to attack the PMSA from the centre and began to take support away from the PMSA in the polls. Support was also lost to the Caldish Independence Party, and several prominent legislators defected to the party. A messy campaign and Ní Chadhla's unpopular leadership saw the party's vote-share collapse in the 2017 general election. The party lost 37 seats and Ní Chadhla resigned as leader.

The PMSA then entered a prolonged period of decline. The party struggled to select a new leader. Muirís Ó Raghallaigh after Ní Chadhla's resignation but it was in an acting capacity. After over six months as acting leader, he was officially made party leader when no other candidates filed with the party executive. The collapse in support for the PMSA in the 2017 general election and lack of direction saw all PMSA city councilors in Shanbally resign from the party in March 2018. Elected officials at the county and municipal level followed, forming new parties with a local focus. By July 2018, all PMSA county commissioners had resigned from the party. Facing financial hardship, low-polling, and internal crisis the PMSA voted to dissolve itself in the run up to the 2019 snap election, which it did not contest. It officially dissolved on 15 March 2019. At the time it had two senators, who were forced into a by-election due to the change in party affiliation.

Ideology

Initially, the party had no official ideology and was a catch-all party for those opposed to the euclo and increased centralization of the Euclean Community. However, the party expanded its focus on economic issues starting in 2002. Unlike most other right-wing parties, it prioritized economic issues over cultural issues. This gradually changed over time, when the party expanded its platform to support right-wing positions on social and cultural issues.

Euclea

Founded as a single-issue anti-euclo party, the PMSA had a long history of Eucloscepticism. It was founded in opposition to the introduction of the euclo. It also opposed to further integration of the Euclean Community outside of free trade agreements and areas. Ó Corráin argued that the euclo was a violation of national sovereignty and the "beginning of the end of the Caldish nation". He was highly critical of the Euclean Commission and called for its abolition.

Consistent in all of its platforms, the PMSA supported a referendum on leaving the Euclozone. During the 2010 Estmerish referendum on leaving the Euclozone, party leader Pádraigín Ní Baoighill endorsed the leave campaign. She argued that the Euclozone would be declared dead with an Estmerish exit, and claimed a Caldish exit would follow suit. When the referendum was defeated, she publicly questioned the authenticity of the vote.

Taxes

The PMSA was a strong supporter of the flat tax implemented by the Flowers Government. The party's first leader, Eoin Ó Corráin, was central in the creation of the flat tax. After his exit as leader in 2002, the party began to shift away from being a single-issue anti-euclo party. The party began to call for a constitutional amendment to make it significantly more difficult for the flat tax to be repealed. In June 2004, party leader Áine Ní Raghallaigh said she believed that the "right to capital" was a natural right and that is must be protected by the constitution.

Ní Raghallaigh was the first leader to make laissez-faire capitalism an official part of party's ideology. Despite his own views and prominent role in the Flowers Government, Ó Corráin created a big tent party to unite people across the ideological divide against the Euclozone. The party officially shifted away from this position after his exit and it became a major advocate for right-wing economics. It supported a low corporate tax rate and privatization of government services it identified as non-essential. Such policies remained in place until 2016 when Saorla Ní Chadhla supported government spending on programs aimed at supporting families. She argued that maintaining the current tax rate, as opposed to lowering it as factions within the PSMA had wanted, would allow Caldia to sustain its population and avoid mass immigration.

Law and order

As the party began to adopt a more-right wing platform, it supported law and order policies. The party came out against the Caldish rehabilitation prison model, arguing instead that incarceration and isolation were not only more effective, but deserved. Ní Baoighill called herself the "law and order candidate" heading into the 2012 general election and claimed it was only her tough on crime approach that would counter crime in urban centers.

The party supported the imposition of severe penalties for violence crime and what it labeled as "gangster activities". It also supported life imprisonment for the most violent offenders.

Immigration

With Ó Corráin's exit in 2002, the party took an anti-immigration stance. It was initially on economic grounds, and was not based on cultural or religious objections to immigration. While some members of the party did make those arguments, the party platform took the position that immigration costs and social services required to assimilate immigrants were expensive and counter to the party's belief in a small national government. Ó Corráin's successor, Ní Raghallaigh, heavily downplayed issues of culture, ethnicity, and religion. She supported the arrival of refugees, but argued they should be given temporary residence permits and integrated into Caldish society or returned immediately following the end of a conflict in their home country.

The party's outlook on immigration changed after Ní Raghallaigh was ousted in 2005. Seán Mac Diarmaid began to emphasize the incompatible nature of non-Sotrian, non-Euclean immigrants. In a 2006 interview, he expressed his "displeasure" with the "ethnic distribution" of the Caldish population compared to other Euclean countries. Mac Diarmaid was also critical of the government's long-standing decision not to officially collect data on the ethnic distribution of the population in the census, and said that "[the Caldish people] have a right to know what others are living in their country". The party also took a hard stance against the freedom of movement within the EC for non-EC citizens and campaigned on returning powers to member states to restrict the movement of non-Eucleans. Anti-immigrant sentiment was further stoked by Ní Baoighill when she became leader in 2009. She called for the end of immigration from what she argued were dangerous countries. In a 2011 speech, Ní Baoighill said that "Irfanic values are not compatible with Caldish values". She was criticized for her comments after the murder of a police officer and a mass-stabbing in Garrafrauns in July 2016. Ní Baoighill blamed Irfanic extremists for the 2016 Spálgleann Attacks, resulting in violent clashes between PMSA supporters and police in Shanbally. She resigned as party leader after it was revealed right-wing extremists carried out the attacks but was replaced by Saorla Ní Chadhla, who moved the party to its extremist views on immigration. She called for the end of immigration to Caldia and the expulsion of refugees.

Controversy

The PMSA initially maintained a low public profile and drew little media attention. However, as its ideology expanded it drew immense criticism from many different aspects of Caldish society. The party was heavily criticized for its anti-immigrant stances, often labeled as xenophobic or racist by its opponents. It was also criticized for its rhetoric during the 2012 general election and for bringing unusual levels of hostility to the campaign.

The party was regularly accused of politicizing violent crime and for blaming it on immigrants. It was strongly condemned for its reaction to the 2016 Spálgleann Attacks. In a rare occurrence, all sitting parties in the Tionól issued a joint condemnation of the PMSA for its response and called on Ní Baoighill to resign as leader and as a TC. While she did eventually resign, the Caldish government opened an inquiry into the PMSA's involvement in and potential responsibility for anti-immigrant violence that broke out in Shanbally after the attacks. A number of party members and two city councilors who belonged to the PMSA were arrested for their involvement. The O'Reilly government specifically investigated Ní Baoighill for her comments and false claims made about Irfanic extremists being behind the attacks. The report found that while she did provide false information in the middle of a national emergency, she did not technically violate the law or personally incite violence. Local PMSA officials in Shanbally were found to be responsible.

The party was also scrutinized for Ní Chadhla's combative approach to the party leadership, her racist rhetoric, and the way she conducted herself in the 2017 campaign. A leak during the 2017 general election saw thousands of emails between PMSA party officials leaked. In many of the emails, officials made overtly racist, Irfanophobic, Atudophobic, and sexist comments and jokes. Ní Chadhla boycotted the rest of the debates during the campaign, claiming without any evidence that the Caldish intelligence community was behind the cyber hack to benefit the Liberty Party.

Electoral History

Comhthionól Náisiúnta

Election year First Pref votes % # of overall seats won +/- Government
1987 4,887 0.1
0 / 399
New in opposition
1992 TBD 0.1
0 / 399
Steady in opposition
1997 TBD 0.1
0 / 399
Steady in opposition
2002 204,271 3.3 (#7)
2 / 399
Increase 2 in opposition
2007 359,926 5.9 (#5)
17 / 399
Increase 15 in opposition
2012 847,900 13.9 (#3)
44 / 399
Increase 22 in opposition
2017 278,555 4.5 (#8)
7 / 399
Decrease 37 in opposition

Seanad Glítteann

Election year First Pref votes % # of overall seats won +/- Government
2011 TBD TBD
2 / 26
Increase 2 in opposition
2016 TBD TBD
3 / 26
Increase 1 in opposition

Leaders

  • Eoin Ó Corráin (September 1984 - September 2002)
  • Áine Ní Raghallaigh (September 2002 - April 2005)
  • Seán Mac Diarmaid (April 2005 - November 2009)
  • Pádraigín Ní Baoighill (November 2009 - August 2016)
  • Saorla Ní Chadhla (August 2016 - June 2017)
  • Muirís Ó Raghallaigh (June 2017 - February 2019)