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Ireland: Prime Minister resigns but remains in office until government formed


While discussions between political parties to form a coalition are deadlocked, Leo Varadkar officially presented his resignation to the Irish president on Thursday evening. In accordance with…

The Irish Prime Minister (Taoisaech), Leo Varadkar, resigned on Thursday February 20, but will remain in office until a government coalition is found after legislative elections without a real winner.

His resignation was expected because his centrist party, Fine Gael, came in third position in the legislative elections on February 8, after which no party obtained a majority.

The strong growth of Sinn Fein at the end of this election turned the Irish political landscape upside down, dominated for a century by the two big center-right parties, the Fianna Fail and the Fine Gael. Since then, discussions between political parties to form a coalition have been deadlocked.

>> See: "The Irish have spoken out in favor of a radical change"

On Thursday afternoon, each of these three parties, as well as the Greens, presented a candidate for the post of Taoiseach to the 160 deputies who met at Dail, the lower house of the Irish Parliament.

The head of the Sinn Fein nationalist party, Mary Lou McDonald, won the most votes with the support of 45 deputies, far from the 80 votes required to obtain a parliamentary majority.

A particularly fragmented distribution of seats in Dail

This vote, however, represents a symbolic boost for Sinn Fein, once considered the political showcase of the IRA (Irish Republican Army), a paramilitary organization opposed to the British presence in Northern Ireland. Today demonabolized, the party seeks to establish a "government of change", by allying itself with small left parties. Speaking to voters, Mary Lou McDonald said "committed to representing them well and doing our best to achieve this government of change."

On the other hand, only 36 deputies supported Leo Varadkar, who denounced the "empty promises" of his rivals.

"It is incumbent on those who made huge promises of change to people in this election, who have been given a mandate, to submit a government program to Dail for approval," he told parliament. "If they can't, they should say it and be honest about their failure and the empty promises they made."

>> To read: "Mary Lou McDonald at the head of Sinn Fein, it's above all a picture number"

The distribution of seats in the Dail is particularly fragmented: the Fianna Fail has 38 deputies, the Sinn Fein 37, the Fine Gael 35.

During the poll, Sinn Fein was placed in the lead by 24.5% of the voters, before the two big centrist parties. But the republican party led by Mary Lou McDonald had presented only 42 candidates, or about half less than the Fianna Fail and the Fine Gael.

The proposals of this left party in terms of housing, health, problematic at the heart of the concerns of the Irish, met with great success, but another question would arise in the debate if it acceded to responsibilities: that of the unification of Ireland.

A decisive role for the Greens?

Sinn Fein, the second political force on the island, both in the British province of Northern Ireland and in the Republic to the south, wants a referendum on the subject in the next five or even three years.

The Good Friday agreement, which ended in 1998 three decades of violence that left 3,500 dead, provides for a referendum to be held if it appears that a majority of the population is in favor of unification.

The balance of power in Parliament is such that at least three parties will have to come together to form a coalition government. But Fianna Fail and Fine Gael have both ruled out working with Sinn Fein.

The Greens, the fourth political force with 12 seats, could have a decisive role. They offered to Sinn Fein, Fianna Fail and Fine Gael to meet them from Friday.

Discussions could be long and, if unsuccessful, would lead to new elections. After the last legislative elections in 2016, it took 70 days to form a coalition government between the Fine Gael and the Fianna Fail.

With AFP

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Source: france24

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