Fine Gael and Labour form coalition

Gilmore and Kenny - old chums?

It was a foregone conclusion that Labour would hop into bed with the Blueshirts. The current government majority is now something in the order of an unprecedented 113 seats. Labour have been in coalition with FG before, the first time was in 1948. As I have pointed out in a previous blog, the two parties make strange bedfellows.

Should the coalition prove unpopular, the next election could see Labour lose most of the seats that it gained. Does this worry the party’s leadership? Well, no. It would seem that certain members of Labour, long in the tooth as they are, were depserate to get their hands on a ministerial portfolio before they shuffled off this mortal coil. Pat Rabbitte, one of Labour’s negotiators has already worked with FG having been in the so-called ‘Rainbow Coalition’ of 1992.

From the Irish Times,

“I am happy to tell you that we have concluded an agreement, some of the finer details are now being worked out for presentation to both parties,” Mr Kenny told reporters.

The parties took divergent views during the election campaign on the scale of public sector cutbacks, the split between taxes and spending cuts, and the time frame for cutting the budget deficit to an EU limit of three per cent of gross domestic product (GDP).

Both Mr Kenny and Mr Gilmore said the deal reached on these points would be made known when the programme for government is published later today.

“They are issues that we will be signing off on in the morning,” Mr Gilmore said, adding that he was happy with the structure of the government but refusing to say how many seats his party had secured at the cabinet table or which party had got the coveted finance portfolio.

The deal will be put before a 1,000-strong Labour Party special delegate conference today, while Fine Gael will seek the backing of its TDs and senators.

I don’t expect either conference (or Ard Fheis in the case of FG) to reject the deal. I do, however, expect to see some dissent among younger members of the Labour Party who were hoping for a new alignment of the left in Irish politics. This is a major disappointment for many Irish voters who were hoping for some real change. Instead, all they will get from this coalition is spare change.

UPDATE:  @1714

Just hearing on BBCNews that Labour has voted in favour of the coalition with FG. Oh joy.

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Filed under General Election 2011, Ireland

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