The politics of ‘holding the balance’
Irish farmers’ parties and land redistribution in the twentieth century
in Land questions in modern Ireland
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To the extent that land redistribution contributes to large and small farmers seeing themselves as different classes with divergent economic interests, its effects may be highly incapacitating politically, especially if it hinders farmers in constituting themselves as a single political class capable of becoming a coherent force in competitive party politics. Against this backdrop this chapter examines the question of how land redistribution was handled by three farmers’ parties intent on attracting all-farmer support in twentieth-century Ireland. How well each of these parties succeeded in holding a class balance that would simultaneously safeguard security of tenure while tolerating moderate land redistribution is assessed. The degree to which land redistribution contributed to the demise of the three farmers’ parties in question is also considered.

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