Ireland takes its pick

It’s a sign of where things have gotten to in Ireland that the country has a number of options for producing a constitutional crisis.  In no particular order there are —

1.  The Cabinet could fall below its constitutionally required minimum of 7 ministers.  There are only 7 now, and 3 of them are running to succeed the Prime Minister in his just-resigned position as Fianna Fail party leader, of which they all are members.

2.  The Cabinet could fail in its requirement to act as a collective.  It was very close to this point when it went from 15 ministers to 9, with the Green Party refusing to approve replacements of the 6 and with Cabinet members talking openly about what were (or should have been) Cabinet discussions.  The Greens eased this problem by resigning from Cabinet, but that accentuated problem 1.

3.  The Prime Minister is almost certainly operating without the confidence of a majority in parliament, but there are negotiations to avoid testing this with a vote.

4. The Minister for Finance could be perceived as delaying important financial legislation to advance his personal party leadership ambitions, because he wants an election date as far way as possible.   His negotiation strategy on this problem appears to rely partially on calling everyone’s bluff on problem 3.

5.  The government is frequently invoking “rules” about political party prerogatives, even though the Constitution does not mention political parties at all.   There is some aspect of this issue in all of problems 1-4 above.

6.  The Prime Minister himself appears to have no positive powers at all; his only affirmative exercise of power at this stage would be to resign.  Somewhat bizarrely, although this would solve problems 1-5, it seems to be the consensus least-preferred option at this point.

3 thoughts on “Ireland takes its pick

  1. The opposition has given in: The Finance Bill will be done this week, motion of confidence comes next week. So the opposition can later blame a Finance Bill done under the old government.

  2. IM, it’s a bit tricker than that. The motion of confidence will come next week, if the parliament has not been dissolved by then. It should be dissolved if the finance bill has been passed, which the government will do with the support of the 3 opposition parties (all except Sinn Fein and noting that Greens are now in opposition). So they will all blame the finance bill as a mere implementation of a budget that was already passed in December. Even though the government was so weak that it couldn’t pass the implementing legislation for the IMF/EU deal on its own,

  3. Pingback: Paperless underclass exposes dark side of Europe – Euro roundup | Erkan's Field Diary

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