Ireland’s Governing Party Ousted in Historic Loss

“Ireland is open for business.”
~Enda Kenny

Sarah Lyall
The New York Times

LONDON — Ireland ousted its discredited government on Saturday, electing new leaders who pledged to restore faith in the country after the trauma of a calamitous economic collapse.

With most of the votes counted after the general election on Friday, a coalition government of the center-right Fine Gael and the Labour Party was on track to win a comfortable majority in Parliament.

The next prime minister is likely to be Enda Kenny, a career Fine Gael politician who is expected to calm the turmoil of the past few years.

“I intend to send out a clear message around the world that this country has given my party a massive endorsement to provide stable and strong government with a clear agenda,” Mr. Kenny said after winning his parliamentary seat…

…Fianna Fail has been blamed for presiding over an economy that spiraled out of control and then, unregulated and unmanageable, came crashing down. In 2008, when Ireland’s spectacular building boom collapsed, and the Irish banks that had fueled it threatened to collapse, too, the government, led by Prime Minister Brian Cowen, tried to solve the crisis by pledging to guarantee the banks’ debts.

That move has proved to be a huge drain on the nation’s finances, with the government pumping tens of billions of dollars into the banks to keep them afloat. In November, Ireland reluctantly accepted an international loan worth about $93 billion; in return, it pledged to adhere to a brutal four-year austerity program and to repay much of the money at onerous interest rates.

The terms of the loan humiliated Ireland, and many economists say they are worried that the country will be unable to keep up with even the interest payments…

Read the complete article at NYT.

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