The Teflon Taoiseach calls it a day – Finance Minister Cowen 1.06 to succeed him
Irish politics is set for major change following Bertie Ahern’s announcement today that he will step down as Prime Minister and Fianna FÃ¡il leader on 6th May. Ahern has been a giant of the modern Irish scene, having been Taoiseach since 1997 and the first three-time election winner since De Valera, as well as playing a major role in the peace process in Northern Ireland.
Ahern’s speech can be seen here and follows recent intense probing into his personal finances by a judicial tribunal into planning corruption, and Cabinet ministers suggesting that Ahern address the mounting disquiet. Brian Cowen looks a virtual certainty to succeed him, and there could even be a Brown-style “coronation”. Ahern to Cowen has parallels with Blair to Brown – the charismatic, triple-election winning PM being replaced by his dour Finance Minister.
With Cowen being less voter-friendly than Ahern and the “Celtic Tiger” economy starting to slow, Fine Gael under Enda Kenny must be in a strong position to win the next DÃ¡il election in combination with Labour, their traditional allies. However, an election is not due until 2012, and there does not appear to be any immediate threat that the FF-Green-PD government (supported by some “gene-pool” independents) will collapse.
The Ladbrokes market is available via the front page here, with Cowen priced at 1/10.
Italy – an article on the 2008 election is “in the studio” and will appear soon.
Paul Maggs “Double Carpet”