Deadlock Continues over Government Formation in Ireland
It’s been ten days since Ireland went to the polls in its latest general election, and the country remains in a deadlock over the formation of the next Government.
The results of the February 8th election saw a backlash against the two main centrist parties. Neither governing party Fine Gael nor opposition party Fianna Fáil won enough seats to form a majority Government.
Both parties vowed prior to the election that they would not form a coalition with left-wing Sinn Féin, which saw a massive surge in votes. Neither did Sinn Féin win enough seats to form a majority coalition with other left-wing parties. For a majority coalition, the party needs the support of a number of Independent members of parliament, many of whom have traditional alliances with one of the two main parties.
Following a 6-hour parliamentary party meeting of Fine Gael, Ireland’s Prime Minister (Taoiseach) Leo Varadkar said his party is preparing to go into Opposition. However, he did not rule out the prospect of a grand coalition with Fianna Fáil.
The Taoiseach said there would be no negotiations on a Programme for Government without a further mandate from his Parliamentary Party.
A statement from Fine Gael said, ‘The Parliamentary Party agreed that the onus is on Sinn Féin to form a Government of the left with the support of independents. Sinn Féin has an obligation to the people who voted for it to show whether or not it can honour the extraordinary promises they made.’
The statement goes on to say that if Sinn Féin fails to form a Government ‘the onus passes to Fianna Fáil to form a government with them, and or with the Greens, Labour and Social Democrat parties and independents.’
It says, ‘The Parliamentary Party mandated the Taoiseach as Party Leader to engage with other parties to share our analysis and perspectives on the outcome of the General Election.
There will be no negotiations on a Programme for Government without a further mandate from the Parliamentary Party. It will meet again next week.’
Meanwhile, a planned meeting between the Social Democratic Party and Fine Gael, due to take place today has been cancelled by the Social Democrats amid accusations that Fine Gael is playing political games.
In a statement from the Party, it says, ‘In light of Leo Varadkar’s statement yesterday evening, the Social Democrats have taken the decision to cancel today’s proposed meeting with Fine Gael.
It is clear to all that Fine Gael are now engaged in a game-playing exercise and we refuse to participate in what is essentially theatrics by Fine Gael.
While it was always the case that we were unlikely to find much common ground with Fine Gael, we intended to honour our commitment of engaging openly with all parties. Clearly Fine Gael’s intention is to engage in shadow-boxing for the coming weeks and we’ve no interest in participating in such a charade.’
The deadlock is set to continue as Sinn Féin continues its meetings with Independents and smaller parties in the hope of reaching an agreement which will allow for a move forward in Government formation.
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