DESPITE spending the past two weeks attacking Fine Gael's policies, Labour leader Eamon Gilmore yesterday insisted that only a coalition between the parties could ensure a stable government.
As his party slipped further in the polls, Mr Gilmore again warned of the dangers of Fine Gael governing alone, in a bid to sway voters just days before the election.
And he claimed a Fine Gael Government supported by Independents would not last "12 months".
"In our view, it is critically important that the next Government is balanced, committed to fairness and is stable and the only way that is going to happen now is if the Labour Party is part of that government and is part of that government in strength of numbers," he said.
His comments came after the party became embroiled in an increasingly bitter war of words with Fine Gael over policy plans.
The latest polls suggest Labour has come off worse from the exchanges, which could explain Mr Gilmore's more conciliatory tone yesterday.
The public spats have convinced many voters that Fine Gael and Labour are not compatible.
But Mr Gilmore insisted differences between the parties could be ironed out in negotiations and could provide a better "balance".
"I'm confident that if the outcome of Friday's vote is a government that includes the two parties then we would be able to put together a programme for Government, a stable Government, for the five-year lifetime of the next Dail."
Mr Gilmore also attempted to play down differences between the rival parties highlighted throughout the election campaign as a "healthy debate".
He instead pointed to similar objectives, most notably in relation to health and reform of the political system.
Mr Gilmore was speaking at the launch of Labour's policy document on protecting struggling homeowners. The plan includes a two-year moratorium on house repossessions and for turning the government Money Advice and Budgeting Services (MABS) agency into a personal debt management agency.
Mr Gilmore said families around the country were not concerned about "getting deficits down to certain percentages".
He said they were more concerned with keeping their jobs and their homes -- and it was these issues that would determine how they voted.
"It's important that the next government is not preoccupied with accounts and book-keeping but can provide peace of mind for families by getting people back to work and protecting people's homes," he said.