Tuesday 25 July 2017

Kenny's exit risks end to deal holding Coalition together

Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin and FF candidate for Dublin Fingal Lorraine Clifford Lee during the launch of Fianna Fail’s general election campaign last year. The party could soon find itself back on the campaign trail. Photo: Gareth Chaney
Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin and FF candidate for Dublin Fingal Lorraine Clifford Lee during the launch of Fianna Fail’s general election campaign last year. The party could soon find itself back on the campaign trail. Photo: Gareth Chaney
John Downing

John Downing

The when and how of Enda Kenny's imminent exit are still a matter of intrigue. But the intrinsic cruelty of politics dictates that the practitioners look a few moves further along in this chess board. The reality is that his departure will also "spook" both big parties, making an early election a greater risk.

In Fianna Fáil, Micheál Martin now faces pressure not to allow a new Fine Gael leader to get established. Fine Gael will, on the other hand, pressurise the new leader to "put manners" on Fianna Fáil. Above all, this fuelling of internal tensions already stoked up by the past week's ill-tempered controversy, raises fundamental doubt about the likelihood of agreeing a Budget in October.

That in turn raises the prospect of an earlier election challenging assumptions that this hybrid minority Fine Gael-led Coalition, installed on May 6 last, can limp on until late 2018 at least.

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