Ireland is set to choose its new parliament as the country votes on February 8 in a three-way race which has been, till now, dominated by two political parties. A possible surge of Sinn Fein, a party historically linked with the Irish Republican Army (IRA), is heavily dependent on its poll promises of resolving the housing crisis and improving the healthcare.
Incumbent Prime Minister Leo Varadkar's Fine Gael party currently holds 47 seats in 159 members Dáil Éireann, Ireland’s lower house but reports suggest that his party is trailing in the polls. During his final campaign stop, Varadkar acknowledged the election is wide open saying all three parties are within shouting distance of each other.
Varadkar is relying on Brexit, UK’s official departure from the European Union, to secure a new term but voters are likely to decide the election on domestic issues. The Fine Gael leader had welcomed the Brexit deal calling it a ‘unique solution’ for Northern Ireland and said that the new Brexit agreement respects the region’s unique history and geography.
We have #Brexit Agreement that allows UK leave EU in orderly way. We have unique solution for NI that respects unique history and geography. Its good for Ireland and NI. No hard border. All-island and East-West economy can continue thrive. Protects Single Market & our place in it— Leo Varadkar (@LeoVaradkar) October 17, 2019
With housing and healthcare emerging as a major poll plank, Ireland’s Prime Minister assured that the government will focus on issues like health and housing with the “same passion and intensity” that they had “focused on Brexit” in the past three years. Varadkar has repeatedly highlighted the formal Brexit as his major achievement by avoiding a hard border with British-run Northern Ireland.
Around 3.3 million people are eligible to vote in the 2020 elections and the three parties, Fine Gael, Fianna Fail, and Sinn Fein, are fighting tooth and nail to stake a claim in the government. However, Sinn Fein can not form a majority government since it has fielded only 42 candidates.
(With Agency Inputs)