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Tánaiste Micheál Martin and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar Alamy Stock Photo
Next election

Varadkar raises prospect of another rotating Taoiseach arrangement if coalition is re-elected

Varadkar stressed he did not yet have a general election date in mind.

LEO VARADKAR HAS raised the prospect of another rotating Taoiseach arrangement if the current coalition is re-elected.

Varadkar insisted the same Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Green Party coalition could return to serve for another term.

He said if the two main parties were able to form a government, and emerged with roughly the same number of seats, then it would be possible for them to again share the position of Taoiseach, like he and Micheál Martin have done in the current mandate.

Speaking at his end of year media briefing, Fine Gael leader Varadkar stressed he did not yet have a general election date in mind, and was focusing on policy delivery, but he added: “I anticipate that all three parties will run independently in the next election.

“We will have our own manifestos, seek our own mandates, but, certainly, I believe that this is a Government that can be re-elected.

“We’re four years together now. We’ve worked well together and while I know that opinion polls don’t predict the outcome of elections – because they certainly didn’t predict the last two or most elections around the world at the moment – if you do believe in opinion polls, you’ll see that the Government parties have combined support of over 40%.

“Now that is not far short of what is required for a government to be re-elected and I’d like us to continue our work and would like to see this Government re-elected.

“And, you know, it’s even possible that we could see a return of the arrangement around a rotating Taoiseach.

“We’ve seen in two elections in a row now where Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael were really only within 1% of each other, only a handful of seats, and I think if we find ourselves in a scenario where the two parties are roughly the same size then that possibility then exists for the future too and for the next government, but it’s the people who decide that ultimately.”

Asked if Green Party leader Eamon Ryan could be offered a stint as Taoiseach if the coalition was re-elected, Varadkar made clear that could only happen if the Greens secured around the same number of seats as Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.

Meanwhile, Ryan has insisted the coalition should see out its full term in government.

“My view is we should go to the end,” he said at his own end of year media briefing.

“I see a lot of my colleagues in Europe and various coalition arrangements in place. They are always difficult and challenging. Ours is probably one of the more functioning governments in terms of European coalitions. At a time when that is a premium, in a world of real uncertainty, where the US and UK politics is not in great shape, why wouldn’t we keep going when we have a relatively stable government?

“We have rows and there are real challenges, but we have managed it the last three-and-a-half years and I don’t see why we shouldn’t go the full course.”

Ryan said his party would not campaign in the next general election on the basis of a joint Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Green ticket.

“We think we have to work with every option, because we think the climate imperative belongs to everyone, so therefore I don’t think we would go into an election with a pre-arrangement in terms of a voting pact or anything like that,” he said.

“We have never done it and I don’t expect to. I mean no disrespect to the two parties involved, but that is not how we tend to operate.”

Ryan also rejected any suggestion there was a disconnect between his party and rural Ireland.

He insisted the party could be successful in places like Kerry and was prepared to counter arguments put by Kerry TD brothers Michael and Danny Healy-Rae, who are vocal critics of many of Ryan’s policies.

“Why would our agenda not apply in Kerry just as much as it does in Dublin,” he said.

“Kerry people are just as smart and just as cottoned on as to what are going on.

“I am absolutely confident they will vote for some of the brilliant candidates we have down there.”

Asked if he was taking on the Healy-Raes, he said: “Yeah, absolutely.”

He added: “I think it is a choice there. That is a real choice facing the people of Kerry. And I think we have a candidate in every ward in Kerry (in the local elections) and My God some of them are really good.”

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