After a strange 3 days of deliberations within the ruling Fianna Fail party, political events in Dublin are moving quickly this evening.
First, Prime Minister Brian Cowen decided that the deliberations had told him that in the interest of party and especially country, he should stay on as leader and PM.Â But he upped the ante by proposing a vote of confidence in himself for Tuesday’s meeting of the parliamentary party.Â The trouble with a “put up or shut up” move, as this was, is that someone might put up.Â And so foreign minister MicheÃ¡l Martin has offered his resignation, indicated he will vote against the Tuesday motion, and is in effect putting himself forward as an alternative leader.
Now the job of leader is to lose the next election gracefully, so the stakes may be higher for the party than the country.Â Â Yet Cowen’s inability to shake off his own role in the run-up to Ireland’s economic crisis is becoming an impediment to progress on crisis resolution.Â Incidentally, although this has the appearance of an IMF loan leading to the quick demise of the government that negotiated it, the IMF/EU package per se has not been a major issue.Â In fact, the puzzle is that it took so long to get to this point. Nevertheless, the terms of the package will be a significant issue in the election.
Anyway, the bottom line in terms of news is that the Irish government’s planning for a 25 March election — after ministers had completed their St Patrick’s Day globetrotting — is now looking moot.Â The election will be much sooner.Â Our European partners should expect some new faces.