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Sunday 21 September 2014

Pressure on White as Joan expected to win with ease

John Downing and Fionnan Sheahan

Published 04/07/2014 | 02:30

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Minister Joan Burton and Minister Alex White
Minister Joan Burton and Minister Alex White

LABOUR Party leadership candidate Alex White needs to get a respectable vote in the count today to ensure he gets into Cabinet.

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After a five-week campaign, the new leader of the party will finally be announced this afternoon.

Joan Burton is expected to coast to victory to replace Eamon Gilmore and become the new Tanaiste. She is also expected to use the mandate from the result to pick her ministerial line-up. But Mr White is in danger of missing out on Cabinet promotion if he gets wiped out and picks up less than 30pc of the votes.

Despite the contest being regarded as over for the past four weeks, Ms Burton has kept pressing home her advantage in the campaign.

Mandate

Ms Burton has spoken during the leadership debates about the importance of her securing a strong mandate.

Last night she said she was "nervous" ahead of the leadership count.

"I'm always nervous around counts, but the people who have been helping me with my campaign tell me that I should do well," she said.

"It's been a positive discussion for the Labour Party, and after a very difficult election result, there's been a lot of straight talking."

Several Labour sources say Mr White's prospects of elevation from his current position as Junior Health Minister to a full Cabinet portfolio is dependent on the result.

The estimates of the result that would put him in the danger zone range from 30pc downwards. Some suggest he can get away with 25pc, but anything less would be fatal for his promotion chances.

One Labour deputy suggested that there was anecdotal evidence that Mr White was not going to get much support from members on the southside of Dublin, where he is a TD in the Dublin South constituency.

The Labour deputy leadership is also expected to have an influence on the selections.

Alan Kelly remains the overwhelming favourite for the role, but some strategists claim if he fails to get more than 40pc of the first preference votes, he can be caught on transfers.

Irish Independent

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