Labour leadership down to Burton and White
Campaign begins with each candidate getting list of the 5,000 party members
The battle for Labour Party leader is between (top) Alex White and Joan Burton, while the deputy leadership race will be contested by (below from left), Michael McCarthy, Alan Kelly, Seán Sherlock and Ciara Conway.
The nomination process for those seeking to become Labour Party leader closed at noon today, with Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton and Minister of State for Primary Care Alex White the only candidates to succeed Eamon Gilmore.
The four contenders for the deputy leadership are also now known – with Ministers of State Sean Sherlock and Alan Kelly, joined in the race by TDs Ciara Conway and Michael McCarthy.
Party general secretary Ita McAuliffe will now meet the candidates and their agents to explain the procedure to be followed in the leadership elections.
The entire paid-up membership of the party will vote to elect the new leader and deputy leader. Each candidate will get a list of the 5,000 or so party members and their contact details, and the campaign will begin.
It is expected that four hustings will be arranged at which the candidates can address party members seeking their support. Dublin, Cork, Galway and Portlaoise, where the Tom Johnson Summer School is being held, are the provisional locations for the husting.
Members who are not more than two years in arrears will be entitled to vote if they pay up their €15 a year membership fee before June 13th.
An appeals panel will be established to consider the claims of members who feel they have been unfairly treated.
The closing date for the return of ballot papers will be noon on July 4th. The counting of votes will begin immediately.
Labour Party Leadership race
Joan Burton: The Dublin West TD is the favourite, and was quick out of the traps, canvassing backbenchers for support almost immediately after Eamon Gilmore announced his resignation.
Ms Burton has worked the grassroots assiduously in the past three years. She is also the most popular Minister among members of the public.
Her main strength is among the rank-and-file members. Her support in the parliamentary party would not have been huge to begin with, but appears to be growing.
Ms Burton has consistently said Labour should be the party of work, rather than a party of welfare. She will also emphasise the need for Labour to refocus on its strengths in the public sector and with the working class.
Her supporters will also point to her appeal to the average voter.
TDs could be persuaded she will be the most acceptable face to have on posters come the election.
Alex White: The 55-year-old barrister and former producer of The Gay Byrne Show has impressed a cohort of colleagues, who would like to see a media-savvy performer as party leader.
The Dublin South deputy is undoubtedly persuasive and highly intelligent, but doubts remain as to whether he could encourage enough ordinary members of the party to back him in a contest with longer-serving competitors.
Perceived as a liberal-leaning lawyer, some colleagues outside the capital suggest he might struggle to extend his appeal beyond a Dublin-centric, middle class niche.