Ireland: Deciding To Split

Deciding To Split

Ireland's Fine Gael party has been in a marriage-of-convenience coalition with the smaller Labor Party for four years. While civil divorce is still illegal in Ireland, political divorces are not -- and so last week the two parties split. Prime Minister Garret FitzGerald, the Fine Gael leader, wanted to slash social spending as part of a program to reduce a $2 billion budget deficit. Labor ministers, who preferred to increase taxes instead, promptly resigned.

The government called for new elections on Feb. 17. The opposition Fianna Fail party is now far ahead in public opinion polls. A victory would make its...

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