After tumultuous week, Ireland hits fast track on rebuilding government
Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen resigned as party leader, the ruling coalition collapsed, and six ministers quit. Some say the volatile week may actually help the country get back on its feet.
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More tough times ahead
Indeed, while Cowen says he will remain as prime minister until the next election, he may not see out the week.Skip to next paragraph
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A motion of no-confidence in the government, put forward by the Labour party and supported by the conservative Fine Gael party, has been called for Wednesday. Labour said today that it will consider dropping the no-confidence motion if the finance bill is passed by Friday.
The move is seen as a way for the opposition to peg the bill's unpopularity to Cowen while speeding up the election timeline.
End of an era?
The high-level political intrigue is little more than further embarrassment for a country whose international reputation was already tarnished almost beyond comprehension.
Disbelief and resignation stalk the public consciousness: the ruling party is clearly not widely loved – but neither are the opposition parties.
“On the one hand, the government is making a mess of things while the opposition is just point scoring," says Sarah Byrne, a student teacher in Dublin. "If it wasn't for the fact that I don't like to waste my vote, I'd not vote for any of them."
It’s a widespread sentiment. Willie McTiernan, an information technology contractor who lives in Kilkenny, says the government’s rapid but fitful decline has been bad: “It’s a question of ‘What can you say?’ It’s a total embarrassment.”
Mr. McTiernan welcomes the end of the current era, but not with high hopes for the future: “Most people just want an election but it’s not as though the opposition offers any great hope,” he says.
Fall of Fianna Fáil
Centrist Fianna Fáil, which will choose its new leader Wednesday, has been widely blamed for causing Ireland’s economic crash. The harsh medicine it has doled out to remedy the situation has only made the party more unpopular.
The party is now in disarray.
“We’re now facing a hammering [at the election], not the total meltdown of the party,” says Ken Curtin, a Fianna Fáil supporter and secretary of his local branch in Cork.
His party colleague in County Kildare, James Lawless, feels similarly: “It’s certainly going to be a very difficult election – I wouldn’t be very optimistic. Brian Cowen was a fundamentally good man [but] a bad leader in that he didn’t do media and he didn’t do spin.”