Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Why there won't be an Election

With the impending Green conference on the Programme for Government on Saturday, much speculation surrounds the fate of the Government and the possibility of an early General Election perhaps within weeks. Such speculation is ill-informed, and smacks either of wishful thinking, ignorance of the Constitution, or both. I predict with near-certainty that there will be no General Election, on the basis of Article 13.2.2, which states:

"The President may in his absolute discretion refuse to dissolve Dáil Éireann on the advice of a Taoiseach who has ceased to retain the support of a majority in Dáil Éireann".
In that context, Cowen could lose a confidence-motion in Dail Eireann and Enda Kenny could be elected Taoiseach by virtue of the Greens crossing the floor and support from Sinn Féin. But Green support would surely depend on Enda Kenny agreeing not to seek a dissolution of Dail (and in practice a General Election) from the President. This is at the heart of the ignorance about the prospect of an early election – the role of the President and An Taoiseach. To start the train running, An Taoiseach must request a dissolution of Dail Eireann from the President of Ireland. Turkeys don’t vote for Christmas and consequently, Cowen certainly won’t request it. Likewise, neither will the Greens allow Kenny to. And even if Kenny requested a dissolution of Dail Eireann, the Greens would deprive him of his hypothetical majority, allowing President McAleese to refuse a dissolution. After all, she is a Fianna Fáiler at heart.

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