Labour cling to Fine Gael to avoid election wipeout
The Labour Party is moving towards signing up to a vote transfer pact with Fine Gael in a bid to salvage its general election prospects.
The move would present the electorate with the straight option of returning the Coalition to power - and highlight the lack of alternatives.
Labour has given its strongest signal to date that it is angling for the pre-election pact.
Communications Minister Alex White was explicit in his desire yesterday for such a deal, saying there was a "very strong case" for it.
Mr White went as far as saying a pact would be examined by the Government partners in the coming months. Although there is substantial opposition to the move, other Labour ministers last night were in agreement that the best combination open to the public was a Fine Gael and Labour coalition. Labour figures are stopping short of suggesting a joint manifesto between the two parties.
Talk of such a pact has taken on extra significance as the election is now at most eight months away and popular support for the Coalition has fallen sharply.
Based on current poll numbers, Labour would come in with fewer seats than all of the other established parties and could even lose automatic speaking rights in the Dáil.
Fine Gael ministers concede that their party's target of winning 60 seats has been dismissed as "overly optimistic".