Home » Politics » Ireland’s divided lawmakers mull awkward pacts, 2nd vote

Ireland’s divided lawmakers mull awkward pacts, 2nd vote

epa05183806 Sinn Fein members Aengus O Snodaigh, (L-R), Mary Lou McDonald, and Dessie Ellis celebrate Sinn Fein's success in the Dublin City count centre in Dublin, Ireland, 27 February 2016. Ireland's governing Fine Gael party has conceded that it had a 'disappointing' election as authorities began counting votes a day after a countrywide poll. Exit polls conducted for national broadcaster RTE showed that Fine Gael received 24.8 per cent of first-preference votes, while Labour won 7.1 per cent. This is a sharp drop from the 2011 elections, when they received 36.1 per cent and 19.5 per cent respectively.  EPA/AIDAN CRAWLEY

Dublin / AFP

Ireland’s election has produced a parliament full of feuding factions and no obvious road to a majority government, spurring lawmakers to warn that the country could face a protracted political deadlock followed by a second election.
For the first time in Irish electoral history, the combined popular vote on Friday for Ireland’s two political heavyweights — the Fianna Fail and Fine Gael parties — fell below 50 percent as voters infuriated by austerity measures shifted their support to a Babel of anti-government voices.
The results left parliament with at least nine factions and a legion of loose-cannon independents, few of them easy partners for a coalition government, none of them numerous enough to make a difference on their own.
“There’s a sense of bewilderment, first of all. We’re a long way from sitting down together and talking about what our next options are,” said Regina Doherty, a Fine Gael lawmaker for Meath, northwest of Dublin.
With 12 seats in Ireland’s 158-member parliament still to be filled, the ruling Fine Gael won 46 seats, longtime foe Fianna Fail 42, the Irish nationalist Sinn Fein 22 and junior government partner Labour just six. An eye-popping array of tiny parties, umbrella groups and parochial mavericks won the rest.
Leading members of Fianna Fail said they would find it extremely hard to forge any coalition that keeps Prime Minister Enda Kenny’s Fine Gael in power.
“I’ve just fought a difficult three-week campaign during which people said to me they want rid of this government, they don’t want Enda Kenny as taoiseach anymore,” said Fianna Fail lawmaker Willie O’Dea, using the formal Gaelic title for Ireland’s premier. “Our supporting a Fine Gael government would be doing exactly what we told our voters we wouldn’t do.”
The trouble is, Ireland’s voters have never produced a parliament like this before. And there’s no third party strong enough to give Fianna Fail or Fine Gael a parliamentary majority of at least 79 seats. Both parties have ruled out working with Sinn Fein, the only party that could get either of them close.
When the new parliament convenes March 10 to elect a prime minister to appoint a government, both Kenny and Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin say they will put themselves forward as rival candidates.
Failure to create a new government would mean Kenny’s 5-year-old coalition with Labour continues indefinitely in a lame-duck caretaker role.
While government collapses and grueling coalition negotiations are par for the course in many parts of Europe,this would be highly unusual in Ireland.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Send this to a friend