New Irish economic policies no different to old

Only three months ago the economy was in such a state of collapse that the government had to get the IMF and EU in to bail us out.

So it is surprising there are so few policy alternatives to those of the outgoing government in this general election campaign.

Each political party must be populist of course, and each party must appeal to the individual household's anger at the state of Ireland's economy and society.

But how credible are their policy recommendations on the economy?

We are hearing a lot of rhetoric about funding black holes; low taxes; and a renegotiation of the IMF/EU deal. But when you examine the economic strategies in detail, are there any material differences between Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Labour and Sinn Féin?

Do they differ in their attitudes towards the EU/IMF loan announced before Christmas? Or their attitudes toward Ireland's fiscal stance Or, perhaps more importantly, toward political reform?

The context for the parties' policies is the stark difference between taxation revenues and government expenditure, shown in the graph below as percentages of overall economic output, gross domestic product.

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