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Why it's looking like a (short) election will be in February 2016

Having ruled out November, the Taoiseach now says the election will be in early 2016, and the signs point towards February.

Enda Kenny will need to have a word with Micheal D Higgins before the election is called.
Enda Kenny will need to have a word with Micheal D Higgins before the election is called.
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

HAD THE TAOISEACH decided to go to the country early then right now we would be in the midst of a frenetic general campaign with the vote taking place later this month.

Enda Kenny flirted quite a bit with the idea of a post-Budget election.

The smart speculation centred on Kenny paying a visit to the Áras on 20 October – the day after his selection convention and the day before the President left for the US – and setting an election date of 20 November.

But having spent the week prior to the Budget fuelling speculation, much to the chagrin of the Labour party, Kenny eventually opted to hold his fire and wait until the spring of next year.

The latest that the current Dáil can be dissolved is 9 March 2016, which means an election must be held, at the very latest, around the first week of April 2016.

The Taoiseach is now saying the election will take place early in the spring of 2016. He even spelt it out for journalists in Madrid last week, saying “E-A-R-L-Y, early in the spring”.

While refusing to be any more specific, Kenny has privately told some that the election will be in February. He also told his own selection convention in Mayo last month that the election would be a three-week campaign, shorter than the usual four weeks.

A short campaign, with the result finalised before the end of February, means there is sufficient time to hammer out any coalition arrangements before the new government will be in place in time for the traditional St Patrick’s Day ministerial getaways.

Other dates also tie into the February theory. Fine Gael has booked its Ard Fheis in Citywest in Dublin for 22 and 23 January. Meanwhile, Labour’s annual conference will take place on 30 January in Mullingar, Co Westmeath.

It’s thought that after these, Kenny will call the election with many in political circles speculating it will be either Friday, 19 February or a week later on 26 February.

Read: The SocDems have ruled out an election pact with Sinn Féin

Read: George Hook is considering a Dáil bid as the ‘Michael Collins Fine Gael’ candidate

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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