Ireland’s center-right Fianna Fáil party will attempt to form a government without the left-wing nationalist Sinn Féin.
The decision effectively leaves Ireland’s two dominant center-right parties – Fianna Fail and Prime Minister Leo Varadkar’s Fine Gael – with a choice of joining forces or risking an election that could further boost Sinn Fein.
“We gave the party leader license to speak to whoever he needs to speak to, with the exception of a Sinn Fein,” senior Fianna Fáil lawmaker Niall Collins said after a party meeting.
Fianna Fáil won the most seats in the Irish election last weekend, with Sinn Féin closely behind, ahead of Varadkar’s Fine Gael. Forming a government will be difficult unless at least two of the three parties work together.
Fine Gael has already ruled out governing with Sinn Féin.
Collins added that his party on Thursday had not “really discussed” the option of forming a government with Fine Gael.
Sinn Fein, the former political wing of the Irish Republican Army, shocked the Irish establishment by securing the most votes in a national election last weekend. Its vote almost doubled to 24% on promises of mass state house-building, a rent freeze and across-the-board increases in public spending.
But the low number of candidates it ran meant it was edged into second by number of seats — a mistake it would not make in a repeat election. Fianna Fail, which has 38 seats in a fractured 160-seat parliament, said it will seek to form a government that does not include Sinn Fein’s 37 seats.