Hands up who wants an election: Fine Gael prepares for January

Fine Gael executive council will meet next week

 

Fine Gael officials have been told by the party to get their election plans ready with the preference for a new-year election.

“It is either go now or the Garret Fitzgerald ‘86 territory,” said one source.

The source speculated on the dates of January 19th and 26th as possible polling days, and cited the example of former Fine Gael taoiseach Garret Fitzgerald’s second government, which effectively fell in later 1986 but limped on until early 1987, with an election on February 17th, 2017.

Senior Fine Gael figures now accept that Fianna Fáil will not back down in the dispute over the Taoiseach’s refusal to sack Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald.

The Irish Times understands that the Fine Gael executive council will meet next week and party officials are preparing to have the organisation election ready for mid-January.

While Ministers said December is still an option, other party sources said a formula may need to be found to get the Government over the crucial December 15th meeting of the European Council, without Mr Varadkar being a lame duck.

“We have be ready for mid-January,” said one figure. “The problem is the December summit, a lame duck Taoiseach can’t go to that. Can a formula be found to limp on until after December 15th and dissolve at Christmas recess? I can’t see Varadkar allowing anything to wreck that summit.”

It is understood that the process of planning for a general election was significantly accelerated in Fine Gael earlier this week among senior officials and Ministers.