Irish leader Enda Kenny has refused to step down despite his government taking a drubbing from voters in Friday’s national election. Both the Irish Sunday Times and the Sunday Independent stated there were already rumblings by party heavyweights that he should go. One senior figure was quoted as saying Kenny was a “dead man walking.”
Kenny, the leader of Fine Gael, the majority party in the coalition, and his minority party the Labour Party, are expected to have a number of seats in the mid 50s, well short of the 80 seat threshold for a majority.
The Sunday Times carried a front page article deeply critical of Kenny by former Justice Minister Alan Shatter, who lost his seat. Shatter complained the party strategy of assuming everyone had recovered from the recession was the wrong tactic. He also complained bitterly of interference in the campaign by Head Office, which he claimed spread leaflets around his canvassing area asking for votes for another Fine Gael candidate.
He was asked on Irish television if he would be reconsidering his position in light of the results, he said: "In my position as Taoiseach and head of Government. I have a duty and responsibility to work with the decision the people have made to provide the country with a stable Government. That I intend to do fully and completely.”
He stated it was very early days to say what the eventual outcome would be and the many eliminations and transfers to take place. under Ireland’s antiquated preference system.
"I want to wait and see what the eventual final outcome will be and then look at all the options that are open to me as Taoiseach and head of Government. I need to call my colleagues, my parliamentary colleagues together and talk about a number of issues here," he said.
Kenny said it was "perfectly obvious that the government of Fine Gael and Labour cannot be returned to government, but I have a duty and responsibility as Taoiseach to do everything possible and as head of Government to see that our country is provided with a stable Government. And I won't be in possession of all the options that are open until we have the final figures over the next 36 to 48 hours.”
He said the 2011 result was "extraordinary" in that the party got 76 seats. He said Fine Gael traditionally averaged around 50 seats.
“2011 was truly extraordinary. And I think what I saw yesterday myself was quite a lot of people who might have supported the Fianna Fáil party who were ashamed to vote in 2011 came back out to vote yesterday. So that, if you like, is partly the reason why an increased vote came out there," he said.
He said it was still unclear what the final outcome would be
"We don't know yet what the final outcome will be because this will go on I think for 46, 48 hours," he said.
Speaking on RTÉ One, Kenny was asked what his next steps would be, and if he would be picking up the phone to call Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin.
“First of all I want to speak to Joan Burton and my Labour colleagues, I want to talk to my own ministers and elected colleagues, and indeed those who lost their seats as well.
“As Taoiseach I have a duty and responsibility as head of Government to see how best we might put together a government for the future because, clearly, the country needs a government and must have one."
On the possibility of a Fine Gael/Fianna Fáil Government, Mr Kenny continued: “The government of my preference can not now be returned, so I will need to look at all of the counts, all of the spreads to see what parties, what groups, have what numbers.
“The option of a majority government is gone, the option of a Fine Gael/Labour government is gone… so I need to know the results of the all the parties before I decided what is the best thing to do given my duty and responsibly as Taoiseach and head of Government."
Mr Kenny went on to thanked all his supporters, and when asked where he had gone wrong, he said: "It is not a time to analyze the campaign."
"Democracy is always exciting, but it is merciless,” he said.“This is a disappointing day for our party and it is particularly disappointing for our candidates who lost their seat, particularly for those who have been serving in the Oireachtas for the past five difficult years," he added.