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Fianna Fail(ed), Cowens Pays Price

Even a few weeks grace is too much for the Irish opposition. They want to see Brian Cowen out.
By Amiel Ungar
First Publish: 1/23/2011, 3:53 PM / Last Update: 1/23/2011, 11:55 PM

The Irish Parliament is set for a no-confidence vote this Tuesday, although the elections have already been pushed forward to March and the current Prime Minister Brian Cowen has already resigned as the leader of the governing Fianna Fail party.

Fianna Fail appears to be an electoral dead horse with the latest polls indicating that it receives only 14% and some analysts believe that the party has not yet reached rock bottom. Cowen became finance minister in 2004 and therefore takes the blame for failing to restrain Ireland's property bubble that collapsed into a flood of red ink. He took over as prime minister in 2008, just in time for Ireland to admit that it was in recession.

The call for a no-confidence vote derives from Cowen's intention to continue serving as prime minister even though by relinquishing his party's chairmanship he has ruled out succeeding himself. Cowen intends to preside over the recovery plan and continue to govern the country untill the March elections and the formation of a new government .

The opposition, that includes the center right Fine Gael, the center left Labor Party and the nationalist Sinn Fein, claims that given the lack of confidence in Mister Cowen, every day that he stayed on was simply a waste of time as his government could no longer govern. The governments' speedy replacement was in the country's best interest. At best, the opposition was willing to retract its no-confidence motion, provided the Prime Minister would dissolve parliament and call for quick elections by Friday.

The lack of confidence extends to his own party where Cowen barely won a secret ballot to continue within it, and then resigned as party leader after his Green Party coalition partners balked at a cabinet reshuffle to replace 6 ministers who had resigned.

In addition to having to preside over 52,000,000,000 pounds in budget cuts coupled with tax increases, the government is faced with a recurrence of the cyclical disgrace of Irish history -- Ireland is again witnessing mass emigration. Many of those emigrating will be the young and well-educated who cannot finds jobs. Ireland's loss will be the gain of countries, such as Australia, that can absorb them.

Fianna Fail will pick its new leader on Wednesday and foreign Foreign Minister Micheal Martin who led the attack against Mr. Cowen is considered the front-runner. Given the standing of his party in the polls he appears to be headed for electoral cannon fodder. But then Martin would not be a politician if he did not believe he could pull off an electoral miracle despite everything. Now that Cowen has resigned from the leadership, Martin could be generous with his former rival, praising his honesty and integrity. He saw no reason for deposing him as prime minister with the election only a few weeks away.