by Patrick McPartlin
Fine Gael and Labour have agreed a coalition to form the next Irish government. The two parties, who won 76 seats and 37 seats respectively in elections on February 25th, have not been in power since 1997. The coalition government have pinpointed making a reduction to the budget deficit as well as creating more jobs and renegotiating the EU-led bailout of €85bn.
In November of last year, the government proposed an increase in taxes and a reduction in spending in order to reduce the deficit by €6bn. Labour are said to prefer tax increases to trim the shortfall, while Fine Gael are planning on speeding up proposed budget cuts. However, both parties are keen to lower the interest rate on the EU and International Monetary Fund loan.
The general election saw the heaviest defeat for Fianna Fail, who have been in power for the past 14 years and, since 1932, have ruled Ireland for three out of every four years. Winning a mere 20 seats, Fianna Fail will be the main opposition party in the Dublin-based Dáil, the Irish Parliament.