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Early elections to be held in Ireland on February 8 after Brexit

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Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar October 17, 2019. Toby Melville / REUTERS

According to him, this is the " best moment ", just after Brexit. Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar confirmed on Tuesday to call early parliamentary elections on February 8:

"There is currently a window of action to hold parliamentary elections and have a new government in place for the next European Council meeting in March with a strong mandate to focus on these negotiations this summer and fall. "

In the absence of a sufficient parliamentary majority, the Fine Gael (center right), the Prime Minister’s party, has governed Ireland since the 2016 legislative elections with the support of the rival party Fianna Fail. Several scandals have shaken this centrist alliance, however, and the uncertainty over the United Kingdom's exit from the European Union, which drove the Irish political class to unity, is now lifted.

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"It's only half time"

The organization of early elections, before those planned for 2021, was widely expected. "I have always said that elections should take place at the best time for the country. This moment has arrived ”said Leo Varadkar, adding:

"We have a Brexit agreement and after the positive vote (by British MPs on the text) last Thursday, it is now certain that the United Kingdom will leave the European Union on January 31 in an orderly manner. "

"However, Brexit is not done. In fact, it's only half time "he warned, an allusion to the free trade agreement that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants to conclude this year with the Twenty-Seven.

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Several scandals within Fine Gael

Ireland, a member of the European Union, would have had the most to lose from an exit without an agreement from the United Kingdom, which would have brutally disrupted trade between these two closely linked countries, or even weakened the peace maintained for two decades in the British province of Northern Ireland.

Leo Varadkar was personally involved, and it was after a tête-à-tête with his British counterpart that the latter succeeded in negotiating a new divorce agreement with Brussels and avoiding a possible "no deal" with disastrous economic consequences.

Fine Gael, on the other hand, saw its popularity decline following several scandals involving its officials, and because of the difficulties experienced by the health system or the housing crisis.

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