go to the polls next month in an early general election, Prime Minister Leo Varadkar
said Tuesday, as he seeks to capitalise on a successful Brexit deal
and restored power-sharing in Northern Ireland.
election will be held on Saturday, February 8th,” he said in a speech in Dublin,
adding that he would ask President Michael D Higgins to dissolve parliament.
“We have a
deal on Brexit and in Northern Ireland,” he added, explaining there was a
“window of opportunity” to get a new government before the next European
Council meeting in March.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had brokered a deal with
Brussels and looked set to leave the European Union by the end of the
month, Varadkar said “Brexit is not done”.
step is to negotiate a free-trade agreement between the EU, including Ireland,
and the United Kingdom that protects our jobs, our businesses, our
rural communities and our economy,” he said.
domestic policy hinged on the outcome of those talks, which have to end by
December. Having a new government would allow there to be full focus on the
negotiations, he said.
election for April or May would risk creating a protracted campaign, which
would be a distraction and potentially see major decisions being deferred.
vote is being called more than a year early. The last general election in
February 2016 produced a hung parliament.
won 50 seats, while their fellow centre-right rivals Fianna Fail won 44, with
leftists Sinn Fein third on 23 in the 158-seat Dail Eireann, the lower house of
2016, Varadkar’s Fine Gael formed a minority government with the support of Fianna
Fail and independent members of parliament.
40, took over from Enda Kenny as prime minister or Taoiseach in June 2017.
Opinion polls suggest the election could be a close contest between the two main parties.
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