Ireland’s caretaker Taoiseach Enda Kenny will go before parliament again on Friday for his fourth and likely final attempt to be re-elected premier after a months-long political stand-off.
Mr Kenny believes he has enough support from a raft of Independents to help him prop up a minority government led by his Fine Gael party, which suffered humiliating losses in February’s general election.
His re-election – which would be the first time a Fine Gael leader has won a second term – is dependent on arch-rivals and the country’s second largest party Fianna Fail abstaining from a vote of 157 TDs (MPs).
Fianna Fail agreed to do just that in a deal struck at the weekend which handed concessions to the main Opposition party and which is to be reviewed at the end of 2018.
Since then, Mr Kenny’s party has been locked in talks with two factions of 11 Independents – known as the Independent Alliance and the rural alliance – to agree a programme for government.
A number of Cabinet positions and junior ministerial roles are being offered to woo the potential coalition bedfellows.
The Fine Gael leader needs the backing of just six more TDs outside his own rank and file to help make it over the line.
The vote in the Dail (parliament) is expected to take place at noon.
The leaking of a draft deal between Fine Gael and the Independents threatened to upset last minute negotiations being wrapped up on Thursday evening.
John Halligan, Waterford TD, said his Independence Alliance was “deeply disappointed” that the document was “leaked before we saw it”.
“I think it is absolutely outrageous and unprofessional,” he told reporters outside the government formation talks.
“It’s no way to do business.”
Nonetheless, Government chief whip Paul Keogh told TDs the Dail would meet again for a special Friday sitting to vote for a Taoiseach.
The move is being seen as a deadline for Independents to either join the coalition or rule themselves out of power.
Ireland has been locked in a political stalemate since the February 26 general election split the vote like never before.
Fine Gael and Fianna Fail, the traditionally dominant parties who swapped power for generations and whose bitter enmity stems back to the Irish civil war, balked at pressure to form a “grand coalition”.
Attention is already being focused on how long a new minority government will last.
Under the arrangement, Fine Gael will have to rule and Fianna Fail oppose without either of them undermining the other too much.