Agreed timeline for rotating Taoiseach will see Martin take reins until end of 2022

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Micheál Martin will be Taoiseach for the first two years of the next government, before Leo Varadkar takes the top job again.

Updated 11 hours ago

AFTER WEEKS OF negotiations, Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party finally reached an agreement on a draft programme for government today. 

As part of the deal, the plan is for the next government to have a rotating position of Taoiseach with Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin set to take the reins first. 

However, for the government to be formed the members of each party must vote in favour and ratify the deal made between the three parties. 

Speaking to reporters earlier, current Taoiseach Leo Varadkar confirmed that the position of Taoiseach would be rotated and he indicated Martin would be the first incumbent.

The Fine Gael leader said he did not know what post he would assume in the new cabinet.

Martin was giving less away when speaking to reporters outside Government Buildings this afternoon, saying that an announcement would made later clarifying who the next Taoiseach will be. 

It is understood that the Fianna Fáil leader will be Taoiseach until December 2022. At this point, Varadkar would begin a second term as Taoiseach. 

This would be the first time that there would be an arrangement in place for a “rotating Taoiseach” in an Irish government. 

Traditionally in coalition governments here, the leader of the largest party becomes Taoiseach and leader of the junior partner becomes Tánaiste.

However, the result of February’s general election left the numbers extremely tight between the three largest parties. Fianna Fáil emerged with 38 seats, Sinn Féin with 37 and Fine Gael with 35. 

As both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael refused to engage with Sinn Féin on forming a government, the two civil war parties began to countenance its first ever formal coalition, following a number of years of confidence and supply in recent times. 

With an agreement on how the parties could work together in government – along with the Greens – now finalised, the next hurdle will be getting party membership to ratify the deal. 

If that is achieved, a vote will take place in the Dáil to elect the new Taoiseach which will first be Micheál Martin. 

For it then to switch to Varadkar, Martin will have to resign and a new vote take place in the Dáil to elect the new Taoiseach. 

Coalitions work on the basis that either side has the power to bring the government down.

But in the case of a rotating Taoiseach, the party waiting for its chance as Taoiseach may be unwilling to bring the government down in advance of the switch, according to lecturer in the School of Law in NUIG Dr Eoin Daly.

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Speaking to TheJournal.ie when the idea was first mooted in February, Dr Daly said there was a “massive advantage to whoever goes first” in such an arrangement. 

“The bargaining power is completely lopsided, because they have a lot less to lose at that point from a coalition collapse,” he said. 

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