Fianna Fail and the Green Party sat around a table and did all they could to reach common ground on forming a new government. Couldn't do it, the exhausted Greens said when the deadline came and went without an agreement. There were too many things that the Green Party wanted, like strict emissions controls and no more American military planes touching down at Shannon. No can do, said Fianna Fail, because that which the Greens wanted would cost too much money and there's all the signs of a downturn up the road.
Ah, but do you really, really, really want to be in government? Because if you do, Green Party, you'll take a few steps back and revise your positions or Labour just might step up and take your place.
It would be easier, as far as numbers go, to do a deal with the Green Party and be done with the negotiating. There are only two PDs who would of course be happy as larks to sign on for another five years with Fianna Fail. There are a few independents that arose from Fianna Fail stock, and being of similar minds they might join in as well, getting a little bit of a treat for their constituency in the bargain. That's how the dance is choreographed: right hand outstretched, money for a new creche received, turn and step. And if you're not chosen to dance? There's not much doing for the people who put you in office, and don't think they won't be reminded of it in the next election.
Won't dance with Fianna Fail, will you? Well look over there, it's a new partner for the political pas de deux. Labour might be interested. They flirted with Fine Gael, of course, but things didn't work out in the end and Labour would very much like to get into a coalition and have an impact on Ireland. They have the numbers, and it would be a one-stop shopping expedition to find enough bodies to form a majority coalition.
Think it over, Green Party. You could be left out in the cold, stuck on the Opposition benches and all because you played hard to get. Labour is lacing up its dancing shoes, ready to take to the floor. Fianna Fail cavorts openly with them, to remind the independents that they, too, could be wallflowers this time around if they push too hard and don't agree a reasonable compromise. There is a great deal at stake here, with political fortunes to be made.
Fianna Fail has every intention of filling its dance card, and it's not overly concerned with partners, except of course for the toe-stomping clods from Sinn Fein, who never get asked for so much as a short reel. Negotiators have let the Green Party know, in a rather roundabout way, that they may be left off completely if they're not careful, and all their dreams of ministerial positions will evaporate like so much fog on the disco floor.