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Ireland faces May 24 election after president dissolves parliament

Ireland faces May 24 election after president dissolves parliament

Prime Minister Bertie Ahern announced Sunday that Ireland's next general election will be May 24 and vowed to extend his 10-year run in power.
Ahern spoke after meeting Ireland's symbolic head of state, President Mary McAleese, who signed a document dissolving the parliament for a four-week election campaign. McAleese said the newly elected parliament would convene on June 14 to elect a new government.
"Once again, the moment has arrived for the people to decide Ireland's future," said Ahern, a plain-spoken Dubliner whose Fianna Fail party has dominated Irish politics since the 1930s.
"In the weeks ahead, I pledge to give the Irish people the campaign they deserve _ a campaign of issues and policies, not insults and attacks. I am more interested in attacking problems than attacking people," Ahern said.
At stake is whether Ireland, which has boasted Europe's most dynamic economy over the past 13 years of Celtic Tiger boom, will continue to be run by Ahern's center-right coalition or turn leftward. To gain power, the centrist Fine Gael would almost certainly have to form a coalition with Ireland's soft left-wing voice, Labour.
Recent opinion polls have indicated trouble for Fianna Fail, which is pronounced "FEE-nuh Fall" and means "soldiers of destiny" in Gaelic. Ahern been accused by opposition leaders of squandering Ireland's unprecedented run of good economic fortune and failing to fix the country's myriad problems with transport and health care.
The most recent poll, published Friday, found that support for Fianna Fail had slid to 34 percent, down 3 points since January. Backing for Fine Gael party was up 5 points to 31 percent.
Fianna Fail's current coalition partner, the fiscally conservative Progressive Democrats, stood at 3 percent support, while Fine Gael's preferred partner, Labour, was on 10 percent.
These and other recent poll findings suggest that the next government could require support from one of two hard-left voices: Sinn Fein or the Green Party, both of which expect to gain seats in Dail Eireann, Ireland's key lower house of parliament.
Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny says his party, which fared disastrously in the last general election in 2002, could be on course to win more seats in parliament than Fianna Fail for the first time in Irish history. Fine Gael has not been strong enough to form a government since 1982, although the party did lead a three-party government from 1995 to 1997 when Labour collapsed its coalition government with Fianna Fail.


Updated : 2021-02-26 20:41 GMT+08:00