Leo has edge on Simon and Frances - but leader races are unpredictable
Published 09/07/2016 | 02:30
Times have changed in politics. A new, urbanite, female TD reprimanded a seasoned, rural male counterpart this week for reeking. When he sat down beside her at a meeting (after a feed of pints the night before), she told him to go off, put on some deodorant and eat some freshmints.
The female TD told hushed party colleagues later she wasn't going to tolerate such behaviour. The male TD was spotted in a sweat later on during a vote in the Chamber.
Times have changed.
In the coming months, the country is tipped to have its first gay Taoiseach.
All the money in Fine Gael is going on Leo Varadkar to become the next party leader and Taoiseach. But nobody is suggesting that it will be handed to him on a plate.
First off, Enda Kenny has said he will be outlining a process to hand over to his successor. But he hasn't set a timeline. After a dreadful week for the Government and the Taoiseach, he is now under mounting pressure to tell his TDs when he is going to go. Once he sets a date, the clock starts ticking - fast.
Kenny will find it difficult to even make it to the Dáil recess in a fortnight without setting out the process.
While rebellion is in the air on the backbenches, Kenny won't be removed by a heave. The party has been there before with him, still has the scars and isn't looking for a repeat performance.
Besides, the numbers still aren't there after Kenny stacked the ministerial ranks and Seanad appointments with loyalists. Nonetheless, confidence in him has eroded since the General Election, even amongst his most ardent supporters.
Where the numbers do matter is in the succession race. Varadkar is viewed as most representative of change. Frances Fitzgerald or Simon Coveney are the continuity candidates.
The latest Ipsos/MRBI opinion poll in the 'Irish Times' yesterday showed Varadkar's appeal to voters is strongest of the contenders.
More importantly, he has been quietly working the TDs and senators in the parliamentary party, who dominate 65pc of the electoral college, followed by grassroots members with 25pc and councillors on 10pc.
Just don't bank on events being so predictable.
A fortnight ago, nobody predicted the Tory leadership race would come down to a two-way battle between Theresa May and Andrea Leadsom.