Ireland: Fine Gael poised to lead the next government
February 28, 2011
On 25 February, general elections took place after the lower house of parliament (Dail) was dissolved on 1 February, as the ruling Fianna Fail party had lost support among the population in the wake of the fiscal and banking crisis. The centre-right Fine Gael won 76 out of the 166 seats in parliament and thus emerged as the undisputed winner of the elections. The current ruling party, Fianna Fail, suffered its worst result since the party's inception, as its seats in parliament dropped from 78 to 20. Although recounts are still taking place throughout the country, as of 28 February, it is unlikely that Fine Gael will achieve an outright majority (83 seats) and talks to form a coalition government with the Labour Party (37 seats) have already begun. Fine Gael leader, Enda Kenny, is the most likely candidate for the new Prime Minister, replacing Fianna Fail's Brian Cowen. The inauguration is scheduled for 9 March. The Irish general elections represent a rather market-friendly outcome, as neither Fine Gael nor Labour Party are willing to restructure the senior bank debt worth approximately EUR 15 billion. Despite previous threats to redistribute the debt burden, Enda Kenny assured the public that it would only do so ?as part of a European-wide framework?. Nevertheless, both Fine Gael and Labour Party are set to renegotiate a lower interest rate on the joint EU-IMF bailout package.