Ireland heads to the polls in snap election after coalition crumbles

Ireland will hold a snap election after Prime Minister Leo Varadkar announced on January 14 that he would dissolve parliament.

irish election

Photo: Niall Carson/PA

Ireland will hold a snap election after Prime Minister Leo Varadkar announced on January 14 that he would dissolve parliament.

Many consider Varadkar’s decision to be overdue: the fragile ruling coalition between Varadkar’s Fine Gael and the centre-right Fianna Fail has become strained in recent months over a lack of progress in social policy. Fianna Fail has siphoned support from Fine Gael voters by criticising Varadkar’s inability to address Ireland’s overextended healthcare system and ballooning housing prices across the country.

Fine Gael will also be challenged by left-wing nationalist party Sinn Fein, whose proposals for public housing and a reduced pension age have drawn the support of young voters in Dublin.

Polls show Fianna Fail with a slight edge over Fine Gael, but neither party will attain a majority without forming a coalition. Both parties have ruled out a coalition with Sinn Fein but have also expressed reluctance to rule together once more. However, Sinn Fein’s growing popularity at the expense of other potential coalition partners like Labour and the Greens may force the two to compromise and preserve a centrist majority in the next Irish government.

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