Fine Gael are examining plans for a 21-day national leadership campaign race which would see potential successors to Enda Kenny enter regional debates in a move strategists say would energise the party.
The logistics of a leadership contest are now being examined by elected members and Fine Gael’s executive council.
As of last night, no advance parliamentary party meeting had been agreed on the future of Fine Gael despite some requests for one.
Instead, backbenchers are threatening to bring a motion of no confidence in Mr Kenny if he does not set out an acceptable date for his resignation over the weekend.
TDs accept Mr Kenny will consider his options over the weekend and take advice.
Parliamentary party vice chairman Pat Deering said he hoped Mr Kenny would set out his position so a motion was not needed.
Under party rules, the leadership is decided by an electoral college which gives parliamentarians 65% of the vote, ordinary members 25%, and councillors 10%.
The process can be done over 21 days where ordinary members and councillors vote at a special conference or it could be confined to just parliamentarians voting.
One option being considered is that the Oireachtas vote of the 51 TDs, 19 senators and four MEPs could happen early in the three-week process and its outcome could then dictate whether there was a need or not to go outside Leinster House for the vote of members and councillors.
Fine Gael figures accept this is unlikely to happen unless there is a large swath of support for one candidate. Such a move would also likely anger the membership who would want a vote too.
Another issue being discussed is the amount of time Mr Kenny would be allowed remain on as a ‘caretaker’ Taoiseach, if he resigns.
A suggestion he may be given as much as 12 weeks was not agreeable to some Fine Gael TDs last night.
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