Q&A: What's the timeline for a potential new Government

How will the results of the party votes on the proposed three-way deal between Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and the Greens emerge?
Q&A: What's the timeline for a potential new Government

*How will the results of the party votes on the proposed three-way deal between Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and the Greens emerge?

The results of the near 20,000 ballots between the three parties will be known around 6pm. but the threshold is not the same for all three. Fine Gael has an easier task in approving the five-year deal with half of votes lying in the hands of party parliamentarians, who have already backed the pact. A few constituency delegates, councillors or executive council members will bring it over the 50% needed.

Fianna Fail faces the same threshold, but has a more daunting task with an estimated 14,500 members voting on the deal. Over half are expected to approve the deal.

The exception and by far the biggest challenge lies with the Greens, who need some two thirds of member votes to back the proposed coalition pact. If that high bar is met and the other parties pass the pact, the stage will be set for a new coalition

*How will the government be formed and who will be in it?

The plan is to have a special Dáil sitting and a vote for Taoiseach at Dublin's convention centre on Saturday, so all 160 TDs can attend given the need for social distancing. Fine Gael has signalled this will go ahead with or without the deal being approved by parties.

The meeting is set to begin at 10.30am with speeches. The proposed coalition has already agreed that Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin should be the next Taoiseach, taking over from Leo Varadkar. Sinn Féin will also nominate Mary Lou McDonald for Taoiseach, but will be outnumbered by pro-coalition TDs. A vote is expected around midday. Then Mr Martin, if elected Taoiseach, will go to Áras an Uachtaráin to get his official seal of office. Upon his expected return to government buildings, he will appoint ministers. A full show of the new Cabinet is expected in the make-shift parliament chamber by 4pm. The entire Cabinet is then expected to go to the president in Phoenix Park to receive their seals of office and later go to Dublin Castle for their first meeting.

*What happens if the deal is rejected today?

This is indeed uncharted waters. We have been without a new government since February, emergency spending to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic is running out and crucial laws that underpin the special criminal court are due to expire next week.

If the three-way coalition deal collapses, parties will have to go back to negotiating and this could involve Sinn Fein.

Nonetheless, it is expected that a vote for Taoiseach will still go ahead on Saturday. Outgoing Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, in the absence of a new government, is also expected to seek some ad-hoc agreement on appointing the Seanad to pass those laws and approve funds.

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