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The votes are in: Here's when we'll know whether FF, FG and the Greens can form a government

The count results from the Green Party, Fianna Fáil, and Fine Gael are expected to be announced.

The votes from all three parties are being counted today.
The votes from all three parties are being counted today.

Updated Jun 26th 2020, 9:20 AM

THE VOTES FROM all three parties who balloted their members on the programme for government will be counted today.

The count results from the Green Party, Fianna Fáil, and Fine Gael are expected to be announced at around 6pm this evening.

All eyes will be on the Greens, the party that arguably had the hardest task this week, with party rules setting out that they need the approval of two-thirds of their membership.

It also remains to be seen whether members of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil will give the green light to entering into a historic coalition together.

What does it all mean? 

After weeks of negotiations, the three parliamentary parties agreed on a programme for government earlier this month. 

For it to be accepted, the membership of Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Green Party all have to endorse it.

Over the last week, postal votes were issued to all members and returned to party head offices.

The ratification processes in Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Greens are all different.

Fine Gael has an electoral college which is weighted towards the parliamentary party, which means they only have 700 votes to count.

The parliamentary party make up 50% of the vote, followed by constituency delegates (25%), councillors (15%) and the party’s executive council (10%).

Their count is expected to begin around lunchtime today, and due to the small number of votes, is expected to be relatively short.

The count will be streamed on Facebook, with the overall result due between 3pm and 4pm.

The Green Party, which has around 2,000 postal votes to count, will begin at around noon. The Greens final result is the one everyone will be watching.

It is expected the results will be announced between 6pm and 7pm. If there is a recount, it could be later.

Fianna Fáil has a one member, one vote system. Their votes will take a lot longer to count than Fine Gael or the Greens due to the party having around 14,500 votes to count.

Fianna Fáil’s count is also expected to be completed at around 6pm.

While it had been expected that all parties had agreed to co-ordinate the announcement of party votes today, it is expected the results of the three parties will be announced separately.

PHOTO-2020-06-24-10-46-29 (1) A view of the Convention Centre in Dublin where TDs will gather on Saturday to elect a new Taoiseach, if all three parties vote in favour of going into government together.

If the programme for government is passed, there is not much time before the Dáil sits to elect a new Taoiseach, and for a new Cabinet to be announced.

The Dáil cannot sit in Leinster House on Saturday, due to social distancing restrictions.

A full sitting of the Dáil is required to elect the Taoiseach so all 160 TDs must be in attendance. 

Instead the Dáil will sit at 10.30am on Saturday in the Convention Centre in Dublin, so as to allow TDs to sit apart when they vote to elect a new Taoiseach.

The building has been fitted out so that the seating arrangements resemble the Dáil chamber as closely as is possible.

There are strict health and safety guidelines in operation in the centre due to Covid-19, with only a limited number of people allowed to enter the building during the day.

Once Micheál Martin (who will get the first chance of being Taoiseach before passing the job onto to Leo Varadkar in 2022) is elected, he will visit President Michael D Higgins in Áras an Uachtaráin and seek permission to form a government.

He will then return to Government Buildings, where he will select his Cabinet ministers, before returning to the Convention Centre where the new Cabinet will be announced.

Speaking to reporters yesterday after what is expected to be the last Cabinet meeting of this government, Varadkar seemed confident that all three parties would vote in favour of entering into government:

“My prediction is the three parties will vote to go into coalition with each other. The yes vote will be larger than people expect in all three parties. There will be a new government.”

He also said the three leaders were still negotiating over the shake up of departments.

Speaking to RTÉ’s Morning Ireland today, Fianna Fáil’s Michael McGrath said his party is confident it will receive support for the Programme for Government from its members. 

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McGrath said restoring and rebuilding the economy and would be a priority for the incoming government, adding that Fianna Fáil will be in a better position when in government than during a confidence-and-supply arrangement. 

“[It's] an outstanding opportunity as a political party to secure our identity,” he said. 

Fine Gael TD Colm Burke, meanwhile, said he thinks the vote will be carried by Fine Gael members. 

He said members “are keen to keep our identity” during a period in coalition.

Burke said support for the Programme for Government grew as talks continued “and people believe what we now need is a stable government that will last for a period of time”.

Stay with TheJournal.ie for all the latest over the next two days. Keep up with the latest by following @thejournal_ie, and Political Correspondent @christinafinn8.

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