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Mr Varadkar is currently serving as the country’s leader in a caretaker capacity in the wake of a disappointing performance in the last national poll on February 8. However, a Business Post/Red C survey of more than 1,000 voters published by broadcaster RTE on Sunday suggested Fine Gael is currently on 35 percent, eight points ahead of Sinn Fein, despite the hardline Republican party’s strong showing earlier this year in taking more than a quarter of first preference votes.
By contrast Fianna Fail, Ireland’s other main party, was on 15 percent, with its leader, Micheal Martin, under significant pressure.
With negotiations aimed at stitching together a coalition with Fianna Fail and the Green ongoing, Mr Varadkar was in bullish mood yesterday, insisting he would not go into Government “at any costs”.
Ray Bassett, former ambassador to Canada, Jamaica and the Bahamas, said Mr Varadkar’s thinking was coloured by recent strong polling.
As a result, he suggested the 41-year-old may be pondering the idea of chancing his aim by going to the people once more – provided the coronavirus pandemic had receded enough to permit him doing so.
Mr Bassett explained: “The Taoiseach’s comments reflect the fact that the most recent opinion polls have all shown a large increase in support for Fine Gael at the expense of Fianna Fail.
“This is in the context of the COVID-19 crisis where the Government is seen to have contained the virus more effectively than many of our neighbours.
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“Therefore there are some within Fine Gael who would not mind a second election.”
Mr Bassett also suggested Mr Varadkar was also likely to wary of entering into a coalition with two such different parties.
He explained: “Many in Fine Gael are very fearful of the demands being made by the Green Party, especially calls for a heavy carbon tax and big cuts to greenhouse gas emissions.
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“This coupled with requests for expensive new environmental policies would mean major economic damage, especially to agriculture.
“Leo is strongly signalling to the Greens that he will not be prepared to pay any price to stay in Government.”
Mr Varadkar was also mindful of the troubles of Fianna Fail, Mr Bassett said.
He explained: “Fianna Fail on the other hand has seen its support in opinion polls nose dive and is desperate to enter Government to avoid another election.
“Leo is also signalling to Michael Martin that he will drive a hard bargain.
“It does raise the odds a little on another election although most pundits expect the current talks on Government formation to be successful in the end.”
Speaking yesterday, The Irish Times suggested Mr Varadkar told TDs: “It won’t be government at all costs.”
If Fianna Fail and the Greens were unable to accept the need to reduce the national debt, “it is better we don’t go into government now”, he added.
Having been frozen out by the two major parties, Sinn Fein, which emerged from February 8’s general election with 37 seats, is not involved in the ongoing negotiations.
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