Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen resigned as party leader, the
ruling coalition collapsed, and six ministers quit. Some say the
volatile week may actually help the country get back on its feet.
Ireland's ruling party has lost its chief, public confidence in
the government is at an all-time-low, and a not fully approved
financial bailout is sending jitters across Europe. But all this,
analysts say, may be exactly what's necessary for the nation to
start climbing back on its feet.
After the most volatile week in three years of turbulent
politics, in which Prime Minister Brian Cowen resigned from the
leadership of Fianna Fail, six ministers resigned, and the ruling
coalition fell apart, Ireland is now on the fast track to building a
"The last two weeks have shown this parliament, this government,
has run its course," says Brian Lucey of Trinity College in Dublin.
The government's reputation is at a low, both among the Irish and
the international community that has spent long hours negotiating an
economic bailout for the defanged Celtic Tiger, he says, and an
immediate election is necessary to clear the decks.
"The whole thing is shambolic and gives the indication that we
cannot run our own governance," says Professor Lucey.
The latest round of upheaval began Jan. 20, when six Fianna Fail
government ministers resigned their posts. That triggered Prime
Minister Cowen's resignation as party leader on Jan. 22. The next
day, the Green Party, Fianna Fail's junior partner, withdrew from
the ruling coalition.
With the Greens pulling out, a further two ministers are gone and
the executive has been more than halved, potentially leaving Fianna
Fail without the support necessary to pass a EUR 67.5 billion ($91.5
billion) European Union-International Monetary Fund rescue package
that was drawn up almost two months ago.
However, the Greens say they will continue to support Fianna
Fail's push to pass the long-awaited finance bill, which allows the
final aspects of the controversial austerity budget and EU-IMF
bailout to be signed into law. This could happen as soon as Friday,
but it may be delayed for several weeks.
Cowen has called for an election on March 11, but polling could
be as early as Feb. 25 if the Greens join other opposition parties
in calling for an earlier vote.
More tough times ahead
Indeed, while Cowen says he will remain as prime minister until
the next election, he may not see out the week. …