Friday

19th Apr 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.

EU commission plans bolstering rule of law toolbox

As EU concerns over rule of law in some member states grow, the commission opens a debate on tools to discipline unruly member states. The EU executive has launched a new probe against Poland, and put Romania on the spot.

Opinion

Catalan independence trial is widening Spain's divides

What is really needed is not the theatre of a rebellion trial, but a forensic examination of whether public funds were misused, and a process of dialogue and negotiation on how the Catalan peoples' right to self-determination can be satisfied.

Orban hosts Weber in Budapest for EPP showdown

The future of the Viktor Orban's Fidesz party inside the European Parliament's centre-right EPP political group hangs in the balance. On Tuesday, Orban and EPP chief Manfred Weber meet in Budapest in a final effort to iron out differences.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  2. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  3. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  4. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  9. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  10. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan

Latest News

  1. Romania drafts EU code on NGO migrant rescues
  2. Bulgaria, Hungary, and Malta shamed on press unfreedom
  3. EU drafts $20bn US sanctions list in aviation dispute
  4. Brunei defends stoning to death of gay men in EU letter
  5. US Democrats side with Ireland on Brexit
  6. Wifi or 5G to connect EU cars? MEPs weigh in
  7. How Brexit may harm the new EU parliament
  8. EU parliament backs whistleblower law

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us