Thursday 19 July 2018

Rated: Five things that can happen next to form a government... and the likelihood of each

Party leaders Enda Kenny and Micheal Martin
Party leaders Enda Kenny and Micheal Martin

Kevin Doyle Group Political Editor

POLITICIANS are still trying to digest acting Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s offer to Micheál Martin of an “equal partnership government”.

With Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil TDs locked in meetings with their party leaders at Leinster House this afternoon here are the five options they have to consider:

Fianna Fáil accept Enda Kenny’s offer

Based on everything they have said up to now this seems unlikely. Former Fianna Fáil minister Willie O’Dea said today he doesn’t believe his party will enter a Grand Coalition. He described the offer of a partnership deal as Mr Kenny trying to dangle “mercs and perks”. He will be opposing a partnership.

Prediction: There’s a chance Micheál Martin will toy with the idea but it will take a lot of convincing for the grassroots to back it.

Likelihood:  2 out of 5

Enda Kenny, Joan Burton, Micheal Martin and Gerry Adams
Enda Kenny, Joan Burton, Micheal Martin and Gerry Adams

Read more: Willie O'Dea: Fianna Fáil likely to reject Kenny's offer to share 'Mercs and perks'

A Fine Gael-led minority government

For this to work Fianna Fáil would have to facilitate Enda Kenny’s re-election as Taoiseach and allow financial proposals to pass through the Dáil. That doesn’t sit well within Fianna Fáil but it’s even more terrifying for Fine Gael ministers who would be “constantly looking over their shoulders”. Essentially Fianna Fáil could collapse the Dáil at a time of their choosing and spark an election.

Prediction: It seems the most likely way of actually getting a government but will require another hard swallow from Fine Gael.

Likelihood: 3 out of 5

Fianna Fáil-led minority government

This would hand Fianna Fáil back the keys to Government Buildings just five years after they were kicked out as the economy collapsed. However, with just 43 TDs on his benches Micheál Martin will have to convince a sizeable number of Independents to come on board. This scenario would definitely mark the end of Enda Kenny’s leadership of  Fine Gael.

Prediction: Hard to see how Fianna Fáil would get enough Independents to sign up to what would be a very unstable arrangement.

Likelihood: 1 out of 5

Read more: Role of rotating Taoiseach now on offer for Martin in 'equal partnership'

Weeks of stalemate

It’s been 41 days since the public voted and Fine Gael ministers are keen to play up the idea that all will have to be decided by next Thursday. However, if Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael do make a serious effort to work together in an effort to build a coalition or minority government then it’s likely we’ll have a caretaker government for some time to come.

Prediction: Patience is growing thin but if a stable government is to be put in place it will take time. Pity they couldn’t have starting talking 40 days ago.

Likelihood: 4 out of 5

A second election

The nuclear option. Health Minister Leo Varadkar said today that people “have to consider the possibility” of going back to the polls. New TDs and ones who clung on to their seats on February 26 will not want to go back onto the canvas but posters are ready to roll.

Prediction: The idea is whispered around Leinster House because TDs fear it’s a runner. They might be right.

Likelihood: 3 out of 5

Read more: 40 days and 40 nights in political wilderness for the party leaders

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