Irish PM suffers by-election defeats ahead of national vote
Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar’s Fine Gael party failed to win any of the four by-elections held to fill parliamentary vacancies on Saturday, a blow ahead of a general election he plans to hold in the next six months.
The governing centre-right party had held one of the seats left empty after four lawmakers successfully ran for European elections in May.
Its main rival Fianna Fail captured two of the seats, a gain of one, while left-wing Sinn Fein and the Green Party added a lawmaker each in the 158-seat Irish parliament.
The Fine Gael-led minority government has ruled through a cooperation deal with Fianna Fail that they extended last year as the uncertainty created by Britain’s protracted exit from the European Union kept either side from calling an election.