Reports suggest Ireland’s prime minister will call election for February

Ireland’s lower house of parliament will convene today, a day after Prime Minister Leo Varadkar met with his cabinet amid

ireland election

Photo: Alamy Live News

Ireland’s lower house of parliament will convene today, a day after Prime Minister Leo Varadkar met with his cabinet amid reports that he will announce his intention to call a general election, likely in early February.

As Fine Gael leader, Varadkar currently heads a minority government after entering into a “confidence-and-supply” agreement with centre-right Fianna Fail in 2016. A late election remained a possibility owing to Brexit-related uncertainty. But now that Brexit is scheduled for January 31, an early election becomes more likely.

Ireland’s situation in an increasingly protectionist geopolitical space is significant. It will have to reassess its relationship with the UK regarding trade borders with Northern Ireland if the Brexit deal passes in its current form. The UK’s trade agreements with the EU ideally will conclude by the year-end; until then, Ireland’s trade relations with the UK remain precarious.

No party currently enjoys a majority. Recent polls suggest equal support at 27% each for Fine Gael and Fianna Fail, and the Green Party is expected to be the deciding vote. It is thus likely that the winner will again form a minority government.

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