The former Prime Minister of the Republic of Ireland, Leo Varadkar of the Fine Gael party, has officially offered his resignation to the President of the Country, Michael Higgins. The background is the difficult formation of a government: After the surprising election victory of the left-wing party Sinn Fein, none of the three major parties received enough votes for their candidate when electing a head of government in the Irish Parliament.
Prime Minister Varadkar had received 36 of the 80 required votes in the evening. Sinn Fein boss Mary Lou McDonald achieved the best result of all candidates with 45 votes. But it failed, as did Micheal Martin from opposition Fianna Fail, which received 41 votes. Parliament - Dail - has now adjourned for the next two weeks. During this time, the parties are expected to give intensive advice on forming a government.
In the parliamentary election on February 8, Sinn Fein surprisingly defeated the two established bourgeois parties - Varadkar's Fine Gael and Martin's Fianna Fail. This is seen as an end to the two-party system and a political upheaval in the republic: Sinn Fein had not counted on the great popularity and had not enough candidates. The party only has 37 seats and is the second strongest party.
Sinn Fein wants to negotiate with leftist parties
Sinn Fein used to be a political arm of the underground organization IRA (Irish Republican Army) and is committed to the reunification of Ireland. The party was outlawed for a long time. Varadkar excludes cooperation with Sinn Fein. He has led a minority government tolerated by Fianna Fail.
Sinn Fein boss Mary Lou McDonald had campaigned on social issues such as the housing crisis and especially addressed younger voters. She had announced that she would be the first prime minister in her country and preferred to talk to the smaller leftist parties about forming a government.
Should Sinn Fein participate in government, the call for an early referendum on Irish reunification should become the official line of government. That would also affect the Brussels negotiations on future relations after the end of the Brexit transition period.