Ireland's next government: As votes to approve coalition are counted, what happens next?
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Ireland's next government: As votes to approve coalition are counted, what happens next?

THE FATE of Ireland's next government is likely to be sealed this evening as votes to approve the coalition deal between Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and the Green Party are counted.

Members from all three parties have now cast their votes on whether or not to approve the deal, which was agreed between the party leaders earlier this month, and now these votes are being tallied.

If the deal is approved - an outcome which looks extremely likely - then a new Irish government will be formed over the weekend.

The results of the votes aren't expected until around 6pm this evening.

It's been a mammoth 140 days since the Irish public went to the polls in February's general election, but with no single party able to secure a majority, discussions about forming a coalition began.

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The coronavirus pandemic somewhat threw a spanner in the works of proceedings, but after months of speculation, it looks as if Ireland will finally learn the makeup of its next government.

Nothing is confirmed however until the results are in. Leo Varadkar and Micheal Martin's parties are largely expected to approve the deal, despite rumblings of minority opposition to the coalition plan from a small number of Fianna Fail members.

But attention today will largely be on the Green Party, which needs a two-thirds majority vote to back the draft programme from its 2,000 voting members - some of whom have voiced concerns over the deal.

Should all go to plan and the deal be approved, the Dail will then vote to elect the next Taoiseach, which as per the agreement will be Micheal Martin.

The deal also states that after two-and-a-half years, Martin will hand the reins back to Varadkar, opting for the intriguing 'rotating Taoiseach' plan.

Due to social distancing concerns, the Dail won't be able to meet in Leinster House, but will instead gather in the National Convention Centre, which has more space for all 160 TDs, who are all required to attend and vote.

Once Martin is elected, he will visit President Michael D. Higgins and seek permission to form a government, after which he will return to the Convention Centre to announce the next Cabinet.

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Speaking to reporters yesterday, Varadkar said he was confident that all three parties would approve the deal.

"My prediction is the three parties will vote to go into coalition with each other. The yes vote will be larger than people expect in all three parties," he said.

"There will be a new government."