Wednesday

20th Feb 2019

Irish election creates political puzzle

  • Prime minister Kenny said he would try to form a government (Photo: European People's Party)

Irish voters have turned away from the two parties responsible for unpopular austerity measures, but the result from Friday's (26 February) election is unlikely to leave any party with an obvious path to government.

With counting still going on in some districts on Monday (29 February), no clear winner has yet emerged from Friday's election.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

However, prime minister Enda Kenny's coalition has certainly lost its majority.

With the results in for 148 of 158 parliament seats, Kenny's centre-right Fine Gael party received around 25 percent of the votes, down from 36 percent in 2011.

His junior coalition partner, centre-left Labour, plummeted from 19 percent to 6.6 percent, while Kenny's rivals in the centrist/centre-right Fianna Fail party increased their support from 17 percent to 24 percent.

However, neither of the two mainstream parties, Fine Gael or Fianna Fail, appears to be able to form a coalition with a junior partner.

In many European democracies, that would leave a grand coalition between the two as the most likely option, but in Ireland the two parties foster rivalries that go back to the 1922-23 civil war.

Health minister Leo Varadkar, of Fine Gael, said he was against a grand alliance with Fianna Fail.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea for either party. I don’t think it would last. I don’t trust them and I think it would open the door to Sinn Fein as the lead opposition,” he said according to the Irish Times.

Left-wing Sinn Fein, with historic ties to the Irish Republican Army, won almost 14 percent, up from 10 percent.

Some have likened the election result to that of the anti-establishment outcomes of recent votes in Spain and Greece.

“The former coalition government has counted huge losses, with its support slumping almost 50 per cent. Sinn Fein has grown impressively, setting itself as the party that will define mainstream politics in Ireland from now on,” said Greek MEP Dimitris Papadimoulis, of the left-wing Syriza party.

Another left-wing group, the Anti-Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit, also did well, with around 4 percent of the vote.

Kenny has said he will try to form a government.

“I'd like to think that it could be possible, given the final results, to be able to put a government together that could work through the many challenges we have,” he said according to the BBC.

Other options beyond a grand coalition include a minority government, or fresh elections.

Finance minister Michael Noonan hinted that another election might have to be called, saying from an election count centre: “We may all be back here again very shortly.”

Ireland goes to polls amid post-crisis uncertainty

The Irish will vote on Friday in their first general election since completing the international bailout programme. Amid doubts about the true state of Irish society, the result is too hard to call.

Economy dominates Ireland election campaign

Prime minister Enda Kenny is favourite to win re-election in Ireland's 26 February vote, but some disillusioned voters are turning away from mainstream parties.

Sluggish procedure against Hungary back on table

EU probes into Hungary and Poland on rule of law and democracy are back on the agenda of EU affairs ministers - but with little guidance from the Romanian presidency, without a clear idea where the procedures are headed.

Calls for Tajani's resignation over Slovenia, Croatia row

The European Parliament's Italian president referred to Croatia and Slovenia as former Italian regions at the weekend, sparking outrage. Although Antonio Tajani apologised, somer former leaders and MEPs are now calling for his resignation.

News in Brief

  1. British PM to batter against EU wall on Brexit
  2. Hungary and Slovakia break EU line on Jerusalem
  3. Germany and France to overhaul EU competition law
  4. Estonia kicks out Danske Bank over money laundering scandal
  5. May and Juncker meet over Brexit on Wednesday
  6. EU promises to open up advisory groups
  7. EU agrees to limit CO2 emissions by trucks
  8. Juncker under attack in Hungary government ad

Opinion

Italy will keep blinking in 2019

Italy's 'marriage of convenience' coalition government likes picking battles with Brussels. But with the economy now in recession, and deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini needing to keep the business lobby on board, expect Rome to blink first.

Opinion

The test for Sweden's new government

While the formation of a new government ends Sweden's fourth-month paralysis, it doesn't resolve the challenge from radical-right populists in Sweden. A key question remains: will treating populists like pariahs undercut the appeal of their, often anti-rights, politics?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  2. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  3. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  5. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  7. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  8. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups

Latest News

  1. 'No evidence' ECB bond-buying helped euro economy
  2. Juncker: Orban should leave Europe's centre-right
  3. College of Europe alumni ask rector to cut Saudi ties
  4. EU says Hungary's anti-Juncker campaign is fake news
  5. Trump right for once: Europe should take back foreign fighters
  6. EU should clarify rules for plant burgers and lab meat
  7. Italian populists could be second biggest force in EU parliament
  8. Merkel defends Russia ties, ridicules Trump on cars

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us