Irish Prime Minister Faces Pressure to Call Early Elections

Irish Prime Minister Simon Harris found himself under pressure on Monday to call for early legislative elections to capitalize on the strong performance of the centrist coalition in the recent European and local elections, which were dominated by migration issues.

The two main parties in the country, Fine Gael and Fianna Fail, both received over 20% of the votes in the local elections held last Friday. In contrast, the left-wing nationalist party Sinn Fein, which favors reunification with Northern Ireland, fell below 12%, marking a significant drop from its polling numbers last year.

While the results of the European elections are still pending, initial counts indicate a similar trend. The next legislative elections are scheduled to take place by March next year, and Simon Harris, who has been in office since April, has expressed his intention to complete the current term. However, some prominent figures within his party have urged him to call for early elections to capitalize on the recent electoral success.

The Irish Times has now deemed early legislative elections “more likely,” stating that it would be surprising if the government parties did not seriously consider it. Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald apologized for her party’s disappointing results on Sunday but refused to resign. Analysts attribute the party’s decline to its pro-immigration stance, which alienated the popular vote.

Immigration has emerged as a major campaign issue in Ireland for the first time. The accommodation of migrants has become a particularly sensitive topic in recent months, as the lack of affordable housing and the crisis of purchasing power have fueled strong resentment towards newcomers.

In late November, Dublin was rocked by unprecedented riots, which authorities attributed to far-right groups, following a knife attack that left four people injured, including three children. Since taking over as head of government from the resigning Leo Varadkar, Simon Harris has tightened asylum conditions and reduced financial assistance to refugees.