Leo Varadkar vows to block Fianna Fáil from creating minority coalition if Fine Gael remain largest party after next election
TAOISEACH Leo Varadkar will seek to block Fianna Fáil from creating a minority coalition if his party remain the largest in Leinster House after the next election.
Mr Varadkar said he would consider helping Micheál Martin become Taoiseach through a confidence-and-supply arrangement if Fine Gael lost the election.
However, in circumstances where Fianna Fáil is the second-largest party then Mr Varadkar would not facilitate them forming a government.
His comments came at the end of the Fine Gael party think-in, where Mr Varadkar told TDs he intended to call an election next May.
He has effectively kick-started an eight-month-long campaign that will run parallel to the fallout from Brexit.
“First of all, let there be no doubt about this. It is my intention and my plan and my expectation that Fine Gael will win the next election when it comes in May 2020,” he told reporters in Cork.
“We will be the largest party and as the largest party we will do what the largest party always does, which is seek to form a government. Ideally a coalition government with a majority.
“While confidence and supply has worked reasonably well for just over three years now, a majority government would be better for the country and that’s what I want us to be in a position to do,” he said.
Mr Varadkar refused to rule out entering a ‘grand coalition’ with Fianna Fáil – but said he would not help them form a government with smaller parties such as the Green Party and Labour.
“I am certainly not ruling out any future arrangement with Fianna Fáil. Either confidence and supply or coalition.
“We certainly would not entertain a situation whereby we were the largest party in the Dáil and we were then somehow asked to facilitate the second-largest and fourth- and fifth- parties forming a government,” he said.
Asked whether his own party would allow him to remain as leader if they lose the election, Mr Varadkar replied: “Our party rules are there for anyone to see. If after an election we are not forming a government then there is a ballot of Oireachtas members as to whether they want me to continue or not.”
Fine Gael TDs, senators and election candidates spent much of the past two days discussing a ‘better deal for families’ which is likely to be a central theme of their election campaign.
Housing is likely to be key to the election, but the Taoiseach said he was confident the situation will be improving by next May.
“I don't think that I’ll be able to say that the housing crisis is solved. But I am confident that when we get to May, people will see that we're making real progress,” he said.
“That may not be evident at the moment. But look where we are, you know, since I've become Taoiseach, over 40,000 new homes and apartments built in the country, We now see has prices are levelling, falling a bit in Dublin. So affordability is improving for the first time now and in a very long time.”
He said Fine Gael started one of the biggest social housing programmes in decades.
“So I think, you know, we are making progress. But as was the case with the financial crisis, and the employment prices, sometimes you have to making that progress for two or three years before people really feel it and see it in their own lives and communities.”