Monday , October 26 2020

Ireland faces February polls after prime minister calls snap election – the telegraph,

Ireland's Prime Minister Leo Varadkar Ireland's Prime Minister Leo Varadkar Ireland will go to the polls on February 8Credit:REUTERS

Ireland will go to the polls on February 8 after the prime minister called a snap general election.

On Tuesday Leo Varadkar ended weeks of speculation about the timing of the election when he formally requested that the president dissolves the current parliament.

Health, housing, Brexit and climate change are expected to be the main issues in the campaign.

Mr Varadkar had said he preferred a summer election but power has been ebbing away from the minority government over the past few weeks.

The government is supported by Fianna Fail, the biggest opposition party, in a confidence and supply arrangement but was expected to lose a no confidence motion in the health minister.

The Fine Gael-led administration suffers a series of by-election losses just before Christmas which deprived it of its working majority.

It is not expected that there will be any outright winner in the election. Parliament will convene again on February 20 But it could take months to form a new government.

Opinion polls suggest that the next administration will either be a Fianna Fail or Fine Gael led coalition. Both parties, which are pro-EU with centrist economic policies, have ruled out any form of alliance with

Sinn Fein after the election.

Fine Gael’s main appeal is its handling of Brexit negotiations and the economy. Ireland has had the highest growth rate of any EU member state for the past four years, but the country is experiencing a chronic shortage of housing and chaos in the health sector.

Opinion polls suggest that the next administration will either be a Fianna Fail or Fine Gael-led coalitionCredit:PA

Fine Gael has been in office since February (**************************************. On that occasion it came close to an overall majority as voters blamed Fianna Fail for the economic crisis that forced the country into an EU-IMF bailout program in November (***************************************.

Fine Gael lost one-third of its vote in the February (general election but was still able to form a minority government will the help of a number of independent MPs.

The political landscape is more fragmented than at anytime in the history of the state, which makes it more difficult to form a government. There are ten political parties and groupings in parliament as well as a number of independents.

There has been a cross party consensus on the government position on Brexit talks, so it is unlikely that a new administration will stray from the strategy adopted since 2020.

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