Thursday, May 18, 2023

Vivienne Clarke

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is hopeful Fine Gael can achieve a fourth successive term in government after the next election, in which he thinks the party could win 45 seats.

“We don’t actually know yet what the size of the next Dáil is going to be. We’ll know that around August,” the party leader explained.

“Our ambition after three terms in government, which is an extraordinary historic achievement for our party, we will be seeking a fourth term, and we can achieve a fourth term in government.”

The Taoiseach told RTÉ radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show that he believes his party can take a voting share “in the mid-20s”, equating to roughly 45 seats, “and then we obviously have to build a coalition from there”.

Mr Varadkar denied that the decision of a number of TDs not to run in the next election was a personal slight.

“I had the support of nearly 80 per cent of my parliamentary party when I ran for leader. So inevitably, any time anyone retires there’s a four in five chance that they voted for me as leader. That’s just maths.

“I think what you’re seeing and other parties will have the same experience between elections, a number of TDs will decide not to run again for various different reasons.

“Fine Gael is different from other parties in the sense that we’ve a lot of TDs who have a lot of long service. Most TDs only get elected once or twice and then they lose their seats.

“Because of our electoral success from the 2007 to 2016 period, we have a huge number of TDs who have served four or five, six, seven terms.

“They’re 20-25 years in politics, they’ve been in government, they’ve been in opposition, they’ve been ministers, they’ve been backbenchers.

“Some of the ones who go on to do other things, some of them want to retire. I entirely respect that. What it does do is create opportunities for hardworking, ambitious councillors, hardworking, ambitious senators, and potentially even people outside the party to run for the Dáil and get elected next time,” Mr Varadkar said.

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