Counting of votes for Programme for Government kicks off

The counting of votes to determine whether or not the Programme for Government will be approved has kicked off.

If the Programme for Government is passed by Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Green Party, it is expected that this will pave the way for Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin to be elected as Taoiseach at a special sitting of the Dáil in Dublin’s Convention Centre tomorrow (Saturday, June 27).

Fianna Fáil has already embarked on the ‘count’, with a result expected at or around 6:00pm. Fine Gael is expected to start its ‘count’ at 1:00pm, with a result due at 3:00pm.

Meanwhile, the Green Party ‘count’ kicked off after its polling window closed – at 12:00 noon today (Friday, June 26). The result of that vote will not be known until this evening – possibly between 6:00pm and 7:00pm.

It’s worth noting that each party has employed a different approach – in determining whether or not to approve the proposed Programme for Government.

Fine Gael

Fine Gael has, perhaps, the easiest task to get the Programme for Government over the proverbial line.

Unusually, Fine Gael has just 700 votes to count – notably fewer than either Fianna Fáil or the Green Party. This is due to the structure of its ‘electoral college’ system.

Its voting system is heavily weighted towards the parliamentary party, which is made up of its elected TDs and senators.

Votes from TDs and senators make up 50% of the overall ‘weighted’ votes. The other 50% are accounted for as follows: constituency delegates (25%); councillors (15%); and the party’s executive council (10%).

A simple majority vote (from the electorial college of 700 votes) is needed to approve the Programme for Government. With TDs and senators already showing substantial support, it’s expected that the vote will be carried – by a significant margin.

Fianna Fáil

Within Fianna Fáil, 14,500 members were eligible to vote on the proposed Programme for Government. The approach is straightforward – ‘one member; one vote’. A simple majority is needed.

Fianna Fáil has, by far, the largest number of votes to count.

Some within the party had expressed public concerns about going into coalition with Fine Gael; they feared the party might “lose its identity”. Others expressed concerns about going into coalition with the Green Party, though such fears appear to have eased somewhat over recent days and weeks.

Green Party

The Green Party has – it seems – the toughest task to secure approval from its membership for the Programme for Government.

A two-thirds majority – from almost 2,000 of its members that were eligible to vote – is needed. That threshold is notably higher than that for either Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil.

Members of the Green Party who wished to vote had to indicate this in advance – as part of the machinations of an online conference that was held last week. The vote encompasses Green Party members on both sides of the border; some members of the Green Party in Northern Ireland are also taking part.

It’s worth noting that significant opposition to the Programme for Government – and the prospect of a coalition with Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil – was evident within the Green Party. Three of the party’s 12 elected TDs embarked on an intense campaign against the proposed coalition – apparently led by Dublin Central TD Neasa Hourigan.

Stay tuned to AgriLand for ongoing updates, as they emerge…