Ireland’s parliament has elected a new prime minister, installing Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin at the helm of a grand coalition with Fine Gael.
It’s a desperate attempt to maintain the old set-up after it was rejected by voters earlier this year. Martin succeeds Leo Varadkar of Fine Gael, who becomes deputy premier in a three-way deal with the Greens.
Martin will be taoiseach until December 2022, when the office reverts to Varadkar, in an arrangement to rotate the position.
Every government since the foundation of the Irish state in 1922 has been led by either Fianna Fail or Fine Gael and its predecessor.
The last election saw an historic defeat for the two bosses’ parties who between them received just 44 percent of the popular vote. This was the first time that they took less than 50 percent together.
It was Sinn Fein that took the most votes.
Without the Greens, Fianna Fail and Fine Gael lacked enough seats for a parliamentary majority. There were divisions within the Greens over whether to prop up the coalition.
But the deal was eventually backed by 76 percent of the party, which is likely to have three cabinet ministers. People Before Profit, which has three TDs in the Irish parliament, said of the new government, “This is a cynical attempt to steal the result of the last election from voters demanding progressive change.”
It added that the arrangement was “an alliance designed to protect the interests of the establishment”.
“It is a strategy by the Irish establishment to hold on to power using the Green Party as political cover,” it said.
The programme for government is high on warm words. But in the detail it looks likely the government is preparing for further attacks on workers to pay for the looming economic crisis.