Thursday, April 2, 2020

Prime Minister Bets Flash Campaign To Save Job In Ireland

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Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar in Dublin on January 14, 2019. BRYAN MEADE / AFP

The announcement had been awaited for months, but it nevertheless surprised: experts and the media were counting more on the month of May. Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar on Tuesday (January 14th) decided to hold general elections in Ireland for Saturday (February 8th). The leader of Fine Gael (center right), in office since June 2017, will therefore put his mandate at stake, after a three-week lightning campaign. Pressed for time, the candidates for the deputation had already started to post their campaign posters, noted theIrish Times Tuesday noon.

It was understood that the Irish Parliament, the Dail, had to be dissolved fairly quickly, generally sitting no more than five years in a row: the last elections were held in 2016. Above all, the non-aggression pact between the two main parties of the country, the Fine Gael and the Fianna Fail (center right also), expired. The timing of a confidence vote against health minister Simon Harris at the start of February, which Leo Varadkar and his government were at risk of losing, may have precipitated the decision.

The doctor by training, just 41 years old, also made his calculation: it was better to summon the voters as quickly as possible to be able to claim two recent victories. Varadkar has just succeeded, with his British alter ego Boris Johnson, in reconciling the main political parties in Northern Ireland, who agreed to reform their regional executive three years after its dissolution. In Belfast, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and the Republican Sinn Fein finally reached an agreement on Saturday, January 11, just in time to deal with the consequences of Brexit, scheduled for January 31. Mr. Varadkar greeted a moment 'Historic'.

Read also Draft agreement in Northern Ireland to break the political deadlock

Dublin interests spared Brexit

The Stormont Assembly (the name given to the Northern Irish executive, set up in 1998 as part of the Good Friday peace accords), had abruptly closed in January 2017 following revelations concerning a program expensive aid to renewable energies, which Arlene Foster, then Prime Minister (and patron of DUP), was at the origin.

Stormont will be able to actively participate, throughout the Brexit transition period (until the end of 2020), in the implementation of the Northern Irish protocol supposed to ensure the absence of a physical border between Northern Ireland (which will remain at within the United Kingdom) and the Republic of Ireland (still in the EU after January 31).

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