Ireland Moves Toward Grand Coalition Including Greens

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(Bloomberg) -- Ireland is on track to get its first-ever grand coalition, as the nation’s historic political parties came together with the Greens to effectively agree on a deal.

Negotiators for Prime Minister Leo Varadkar’s Fine Gael, the party’s traditional rival Fianna Fail and the Greens reached consensus on a program for government, Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney told reporters in Dublin on Sunday. The three party leaders will meet to finalize the deal on Sunday, Coveney said, adding he’s “confident” the agreement will be signed off and backed by party members.

The deal still faces hurdles, primarily winning support from Green party members. Two thirds need to back the agreement to allow the party to enter government. If passed, Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin is likely to become prime minister before handing over to Fine Gael’s leader halfway through the term.

A grand coalition would effectively end a political divide that originates from Ireland’s civil war almost a century ago. The groups that became Fine Gael and Fianna Fail fought on opposite sides in that conflict, and the split has been the main divide in politics since.

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Neither of the two parties has enough seats to command a parliamentary majority, which has pushed them into talks with the Greens, in order to shut out Sinn Fein from power. Fine Gael and Fianna Fail refuse to govern with Sinn Fein, which won the largest share of the vote in the February election, because of its left-wing politics and links to the IRA, which led a decades-long, armed campaign against British rule of Northern Ireland that killed thousands.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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