DUBLIN (Reuters) – Ireland’s Fianna Fail and Fine Gael will publish an agreement in the next day or so aimed at attracting enough additional support to form a government two months after an inconclusive election, senior members of both parties said on Wednesday.
The centre-right parties, rivals who have alternated in power throughout the nation’s history but have never formed a coalition together, need the support of at least one smaller party or eight independent lawmakers to reach a majority.
While a number of the 20 independents in the fractured 160-seat parliament are willing to join, the smaller parties being courted have so far refused to consider it.
Acting Prime Minister Leo Varadkar and his acting finance minister, Paschal Donohoe, have said the participation of a third party is a precondition of Fine Gael continuing in office.
“We are working on an agreed position paper, we will have it published in the next day or so and we are hoping that, when it is published, it will attract other political parties to consider coming into government,” acting Business Minister Heather Humphreys of Fine Gael told a news conference.
Fianna Fail justice spokesman Jim O’Callaghan gave a similar timeframe for the publication of the document in an interview with national broadcaster RTE.
Both parties steadfastly refuse to govern with the left-wing, pro-Irish unity Sinn Fein party, which surged to 37 seats in the February election, the same number held by Fianna Fail and two more than Fine Gael’s 35.
Humphreys said the agreement with Fianna Fail will reflect the changed environment after the acting government has already committed close to 10 billion euros to support the economy through the coronavirus, almost as much spending as most parties based their election manifestos on for the next five years.
(Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Chris Reese)