Monday 24 April 2017

Numbers must add up for next Taoiseach

Before you buy into non-party candidates, remember the Latin adage, 'caveat emptor', writes Alan Shatter

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams

Alan Shatter

The outcome of the 2016 "early spring" General Election is readily predictable. Unless any of them are victims in the coming weeks of some totally unexpected political tsunami, the next Taoiseach will be Enda Kenny, Micheal Martin or Gerry Adams.

Which of them is a matter of numbers. To be elected Taoiseach will require the support of at least 79 TDs in the newly-elected 32nd Dail. To appoint a government that is stable, with any possibility of serving a full five-year Dail term, the incoming Taoiseach will need the continuing support and allegiance of more than the bare minimum of 79.

If the new government has only a very small majority or is a minority government, propped up by a large disparate group of Independents whose allegiance is uncertain, within six to 18 months of the 32nd Dail first meeting, it is likely the government will collapse and the Dail will be dissolved. There can be no certainty that any subsequent general election held to elect members to the 33rd Dail will substantially change the parliamentary arithmetic.

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