Irish prime minister dampens speculation of 2015 election

Irish prime minister dampens speculation of 2015 election

DUBLIN - Reuters
Irish prime minister dampens speculation of 2015 election

AP photo

Prime Minister Enda Kenny on Oct. 11 said he did not intend to call a parliamentary election in Ireland before early next year, seeking to halt widespread speculation that he would call a snap vote next month.

Kenny has until March to set a date, but with opinion polls putting his Fine Gael party and coalition partners Labour within striking distance of re-election, party colleagues and strategists have said a November ballot is being considered.

"My intention is to have the general election in the spring of 2016 and I see no reason to change that," Kenny said in an interview with state broadcaster RTE. Asked whether he might change my mind, he repeated that he saw no reason to do so. 

Calling a quick election would allow Kenny to capitalise on increasingly positive economic news, with Ireland's economy expected to be the best performing in Europe again this year, and would minimise the risk of any unforeseen events damaging his often mistake-prone government. 

But his coalition partner, Labour, has indicated a preference for a 2016 election and an early vote would also probably scupper the work of a long-running parliamentary inquiry into Ireland's banking crisis. 

The government's election campaign will effectively begin with Tuesday's budget for 2016, outlining its fiscal plans for the next few years. Kenny said that if elected, he would phase out the Universal Social Charge (USC), an unpopular additional tax levied on income introduced during the financial crisis.