Failure to nominate Taoiseach?

What happens on June 14th if neither side can obtain a majority in the nomination of Taoiseach? We have to assume that the current Ceann Comhairle will be reappointed (Rory O’Hanlon, FF), unless a deal is done beforehand. Also, last time out, Sinn Fein abstained from the vote, apparently on principle. Since no one is speaking to them this time either, they will not vote on either option. If they do abstain, then the two opposing sides still have to get 83 votes from 161 remaining deputies. The constitution doesn’t specify the numbers but definitely indicates that it has to be the majority of the Dail. My central thesis is this: that on June 14th neither FF or FG will be able to form a solid 83 seats vote.

There are precedents for the non-election of a Taoiseach. It happened in 1989 and confusion reined about the proper, constitutional solution. The Dail transcripts make for interesting reading. Haughey: “The situation which now obtains, where the Dáil has failed to agree on the nomination of a Taoiseach is unprecedented in our history.” Well, it can happen!

Eventually, a recess would be ordered and a deal would have to be hammered out in the interim, before a new nomination process would be ordered.

Why will neither side be able to reach 83? Because I believe that FG+Lab+Greens (=77 seats) will try to force a vote for an alternative coalition, without any realistic possibilty of it happening. Throw in Michael Lowry and one of Finian McGrath or Tony Gregory, and you have 79 votes. The PDs are in a difficult position now, especially with the growing rumblings from the on-going Mahon tribunal. If they decide to not enter a new coalition with FF, then FF would be left without sufficient votes to form a government. That would be 80 (their 78 seats – Rory) and possibly 3 independents.

I do believe this scenario is unlikely, but possible.


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