Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is preparing to fight an early winter snap general election to win a third term for Fine Gael if a Brexit deal is hammered out by Halloween.
Fine Gael figures confirmed this is the best strategy rather than face risky outcomes and uncertain Dáil numbers from four byelections that must be held to replace TDs elected to Europe.
Neither Fine Gael nor Fianna Fáil, who support the Government in power, want an election while the Brexit EU-UK talks are up in the air.
Instead, Mr Varadkar and his election strategists believe the best option for a necessary general election would be November. This would be, after the budget and the new Brexit deadline of October 31.
“There’s an impending sense of an election,” said a minister.
“It would be November, after a Brexit deal, and rather than go through with the byelections.”
Mr Varadkar must call the holding of the byelections within six months of the first day of the new European Parliament,, scheduled to meet which takes place tomorrow. Byelections must be held to replace outgoing TDs Billy Kelleher, Frances Fitzgerald, Mick Wallace, and Clare Daly.
While this would give Fine Gael until January to hold votes, party figures are nervous about the outcomes, with expectations that only Ms Fitzgerald’s Dublin Mid-West seat might be held. Uncertainty around whether Fine Gael can keep numbers required under its deal with Fianna Fáil to control the Dáil is also pushing thoughts about a November election.
A winter election would be ahead of what is usually a tough period for government with health and the flu season. Party chairman Martin Heydon insists Fine Gael would be ready if a general election were to come.