Ireland looks set for even earlier elections than beleaguered Prime Minister Brian Cowen had planned for.
He quit as leader of Fianna Fail on Saturday but despite that, his coalition partners, the Greens, walked out on him yesterday leaving him Taoiseach [leader] of a minority government. The mounting opposition wants to go to the polls sooner than the scheduled date of March 11.
Michael Noonan, deputy leader of Fine Gael, said: “What we want is an early election because we have a cabinet now at the constitutional minimum of seven ministers. With a Taoiseach who’s lost the confidence of the Dail [lower house of parliament] and of his own party, we just can’t have that.”
The main parties are meeting today to work out how to speed a key financial bill through parliament. The opposition wants it done by Friday and says it will call a no confidence vote by midweek unless that can be agreed upon. Once the bill is through, they want elections to be called for February.
Given the public anger at the government’s handling of the economic crisis, the earlier the election is held, the more Fianna Fail seats rival parties are likely to grab.