The government coalition of Fianna F_il and the Green Party, battered though it is in the wake of last week’s Euro, local and D_il by-elections, is expected to survive.
Taoiseach Brian Cowen was quick to reject calls for a snap election and dismissed suggestions that his party leadership was in peril.
Instead, he has indicated that he is determined to lead the government through its term, which does not expire until 2012.
The D_il debate took place with two new sitting members, neither of them members of Fianna F_il.
Fine Gael’s George Lee arrived in the chamber after his poll topping win in the Dublin South by-election. Independent Maureen O’Sullivan walked in as the new TD for Dublin Central and as heir to the legacy of longtime independent member, Tony Gregory, who died in January.
The Dublin South contest followed the death of former Fianna F_il minister Seamus Brennan last year.
The vote on both the no confidence motion, and a counter motion of confidence placed by the government itself, is expected at about lunchtime, eastern standard time, Wednesday.
Reports indicate that the government is likely to survive with a six vote majority.
Nevertheless, Enda Kenny and Labor Party leader Eamon Gilmore are certain to continue to insist that the coalition no longer has a mandate to govern following the election results.
Kenny has led Fine Gael to its first-ever victory over Fianna F_il in a national election, with his party winning a greater share of the vote in both the local and European polls.
“I can tell you now that from every constituency I’ve been in the last six weeks, the people do want a general election” Kenny, whose is from Mayo, said.
He said that nothing more than “political terror” was holding the government together.
Fianna F_il’s Dermot Ahern, who is justice minister, was defiant. He described the Fine Gael no confidence motion as “opportunistic.”
Ahern also said he did not believe that the Green Party would pull out of government and said there was no issue about Brian Cowen’s party leadership.
Labor’s Eamon Gilmore, in turn, accused Ahern of defying the will of the Irish people and he called on Fianna F_il and the Green Party to reflect on the results.
The Taoiseach did not make any public appearances on Monday as counting in the European and local elections continued.
Green Party leader, John Gormley, and cabinet colleague Eamon Ryan, are to spend the next few weeks talking to defeated candidates and party grassroots. The party was handed a particular drubbing by voters at the polls.
Under the party’s rules, a special delegate convention can be held if just five of the party’s constituency organizations call for it. However, the likelihood now is that such a meeting will not happen until October, when a review of the program for government with Fianna F_il should be ready.
“We have been in difficult situations before. We have people who will stick with us, who are committed to the Green ideal. I have no doubt but that we will thrive in future,” Gormley said.