Fine Gael leadership contest: what happens, when and how

Once Enda Kenny outlines his intentions, the process to elect a new FG leader will begin

The Taoiseach has said he will speak to the Fine Gael parliamentary party at its weekly meeting on Wednesday.  Photograph: Alan Betson

The Taoiseach has said he will speak to the Fine Gael parliamentary party at its weekly meeting on Wednesday. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

So, where are we with the Fine Gael leadership? Everyone is waiting for Enda. The Taoiseach has said he will speak to the Fine Gael parliamentary party at its weekly meeting on Wednesday, and it is expected he will outline his intentions there.

Will he give a timeline for his departure?

Mr Kenny has thus far given no public indication of what he intends to do, but Minister for Housing Simon Coveney, one of the frontrunners to take over as Fine Gael leader, has said he expects the process to elect a new leader to begin soon after St Patrick’s Day. Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar, his main rival, endorsed this approach.

What about this motion of no confidence some TDs are threatening?

A number of TDs, led by Carlow-Kilkenny’s Pat Deering, have said they will table a motion of no confidence in the Taoiseach if he does not give a firm indication of his intentions at the weekly meeting of the parliamentary party. However, it could be expected that such a threat would recede of Mr Kenny outlines firm plans. This would satisfy rebel TDs and also avoid a divisive heave in Fine Gael.

Who are the runners and riders to succeed Mr Kenny?

Mr Coveney and Mr Varadkar are the two leading candidates, and are widely seen in political circles as the only two serious candidates. Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe has definitively ruled himself out but Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald, Minister for Health Simon Harris and Minister for Education Richard Bruton are all keeping their options open. It is likely, however, that these three are positioning for future Cabinet positions. Any candidate must be currently a member of the Dáil and must be nominated by at least 10 per cent of the parliamentary party. The nomination must be submitted within seven days of Kenny stepping down.

How long does the contest to elect a Fine Gael leader take?

The party rules say the contest, from its official start date, can take up to 20 days. There will be a number of regional hustings. It is likely to last the full duration allowed under the Fine Gael constitution, since a number of candidates want to use to the process to develop a policy platform ahead of the next election.

So who gets to vote?

Under party rules, the leadership is decided by an electoral college which gives parliamentary party members (51 TDs, 19 senators and four MEPs) 65 per cent of the vote, ordinary members of the party 25 per cent, and public representatives (councillors) 10 per cent. Fine Gael’s executive council is currently working out the logistics of running a leadership contest.