General Election jargon – busted!

general election jargon, #ge16

With the election campaign in full swing, we take a swing at the spin and bust the jargon that has been thrown into the public ring.

Here are three terms you should get to grips with during #ge16:

Fiscal flip flop

No, this doesn’t refer to a tax consultant at the beach.

It’s what Sinn Féin has persistently accused Fine Gael of — fiscal flip flopping. It certainly sounds good in a soundbite.

The term refers to ambitious economic promises that contradict the outgoing government’s fiscal strategy.

Rainy day fund

Remember Charlie McCreevy’s National Pension Reserve Fund? Nope? That’s because it was raided after the banking collapse to help meet the government’s budget commitments during the height of the crisis.

The NPRF was basically a rainy day fund — reserved money that is used to deal with budget shortfalls when revenues don’t match expenditures. Money we can use to help balance the books.

A rainy day fund might help prevent us from getting into the kind of trouble we were in eight years ago. But where does the money come from? A tax levy of course.

Fiscal space

The final frontier? The meaning of ‘fiscal space’ has certainly become otherworldly as Michael Noonan blindly throws it around with his trademark sense of cool persuasiveness.

It is basically code for “money”, as Arthur Beesley explains in today’s Irish Times.

It is the money that the government has available for tax cuts or spending increases — of course, the vast majority of politicians are going to promise both.

The IMF defines it as “room in a government´s budget that allows it to provide resources for a desired purposes without jeopardizing the sustainability of its financial position or the stability of the economy”. What a mouthful!

Basically, fiscal space is the money that must be (carefully) created if extra resources are to be made available for government spending.

It’s a handy little term for campaigning politicians because it sounds serious and allows them to make generous promises without anybody fully realising.

We prefer Henrietta McKervey’s definition: She suggests that “fiscal space” should be used to describe “the area between two opposing politicians’ posters on a lamppost”.

What political jargon would you like to see busted in #ge16? Tweet us – @mediahqnews.

This article first appeared on

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