Fine Gael

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Fine Gael
Leo Varadkar March 2020.jpg
Party leader Leo Varadkar
founding September 3, 1933
Headquarters 51 Upper Mount Street, Dublin 2
Alignment Christian Democracy
Liberal Conservatism
Pro-European Politics
Colours) blue
Parliamentary seats
Dáil Éireann
2020 :
Seanad Éireann 2020:
Local government
in Ireland

Number of members 25,000 (2016)
International connections Christian Democratic International
European party EPP
EP Group EPP

Fine Gael [ ˌfʲɪnʲə ˈgeːɫ ] (abbreviation FG; Irish for family of the Irish , from fine , "family") is one of the most important people 's parties in the Republic of Ireland . It is a bourgeois party with a  liberal economic program. It was founded on September 3, 1933 through a merger of Cumann na nGaedheal , the Center Party and the Army Comrades Association . Its roots go back to the struggle for Irish independence , the wing of the Irish civil war that backed the Anglo-Irish treaty . Fine Gael today describes itself as the “progressive center” party, which it defines as acting “in a way that is right for Ireland, regardless of dogma or ideology”. It lists its core values ​​such as equal opportunity, market economy, security, integrity and hope. Fine Gael supports EU integration. At the European level, Fine Gael is a member of the European People's Party (EPP). Fine Gael had more than 34,000 members in 2006.


The party was founded in 1933 as the voice of the proponents of the Anglo-Irish treaty , in contrast to the (then) IRA and the Fianna Fáil party under Eamon de Valera . Fine Gael - The United Ireland Party was the result of a merger of Cumann na nGaedheal , the Center Party and the Army Comrades Association , which resulted in a larger Cumann na nGaedheal party. The party's aim was to end the Anglo-Irish trade war , to improve relations with the United Kingdom and to implement a united Ireland within the Commonwealth . After a brief presidency under Eoin O'Duffy , William Thomas Cosgrave took over the presidency in 1934 . Although the founders of the party had been in power in the Irish Free State for 10 years, Fine Gael remained in the opposition for 16 years after Fianna Fáil came to power in 1932.

The multi-party governments 1948–1957

Fine Gael found herself in the government in 1948 after Fianna Fáil, although the strongest party, could not find a government partner. The Labor Party , Clann na Poblachta and Clann na Talmhan formed the first multi-party government in Ireland under Fine Gael. Finding a Taoiseach (Prime Minister) was difficult. The first choice, General Richard Mulcahy , failed to win a majority among the other parties because of his controversial actions as the leader of the Irish Army and the executions of Republicans during the Irish Civil War . So John A. Costello was elected Taoiseach. Costello brought together the most diverse views of the governing parties. During his tenure in 1949, the Irish Free State became the Republic of Ireland . His (first) term of office ended when he lost the 1951 election.

Three years later there was again a multiparty government of Fine Gael, Labor Party and Clann na Talmhan under Costello. In 1956 Foreign Minister Liam Cosgrave negotiated Ireland's accession to the United Nations and thus shaped the republic's foreign policy for the next few decades. The Minister of Health Tom O'Higgins introduced voluntary health insurance during this tenure and founded Ireland's health system, which is still in existence today and is partly based on insurance. After losing the 1957 election, Fine Gael went into opposition for 16 years.

The Just Society and Tom O'Higgins

During the time in the opposition, a new program was developed in the mid-1960s. The Just Society was penned by Declan Costello, a member of the House of Commons ( Teachta Dála ) and son of the former Taoiseach John A. Costello. It reflected the growing proportion of politicians within the party who were influenced by Catholic social teaching and social democracy . This "new thinking" paved the way for liberal scholars like Garret FitzGerald . The party leadership remained conservative, but the starting signal for the party “revolution” was given in the 1980s. In the 1966 presidential election , their candidate Tom O'Higgins came from the party's new social democratic wing to within 1% of Eamon de Valera .

The national coalition 1973–1977

When James Dillon resigned as leader of Fine Gael in 1965, Liam Cosgrave (son of Cumann-na-nGaedheal founder WT Cosgrave ) succeeded him in an attempt to keep the chair out of the party's rising center-left. As a result of the arms crisis and thanks to Cosgrave's strong performance in the opposition, the party was able to form a government coalition together with the Labor Party under Cosgrave in the 1973 election, 16 years after the loss of government power - the so-called "National Coalition". The National Coalition was grappling with the oil crisis and escalating violence in Northern Ireland. Defense Minister Patrick Donegan also called President Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh a "colossal disgrace" ( thundering disgrace ). His subsequent resignation in 1976 damaged the National Coalition's reputation considerably.

Like his father, Cosgrave showed extreme doggedness in defending the state and did not negotiate with extremists but tried to work towards reconciliation with Northern Ireland. The National Coalition tried to build a joint executive (the Irish Council ) through the Sunningdale Agreement - although the agreement was rejected a short time later after a general strike, it was the first step towards reconciliation between the Republic and Northern Ireland.

In 1977, in the next election, the coalition suffered a heavy defeat - Fianna Fáil won an absolute majority and almost twice as many seats as Fine Gael.

Garret FitzGerald

Cosgrave then stepped down from the presidency and was succeeded by Garret FitzGerald , son of Desmond FitzGerald . FitzGerald was Foreign Minister in the National Coalition and did a lot to change the (stereotypical) image of Ireland in the rest of Europe. Under FitzGerald, Fine Gael moved more to the left into the liberal corner. FitzGerald founded Young Fine Gael , Fine Gael's youth organization.

At the beginning of the 1980s, Fine Gael was again considered "trendy" and was z. B. supported by U2 . The influx was so great that Fine Gael was only five (lower house) seats behind Fianna Fáil in the November 1982 election and was thus able to form a government coalition with the Labor Party - this coalition formed part of the government from 1981 to February 1982 FitzGerald as Taoiseach.

In 1985, after long negotiations, FitzGerald succeeded in concluding the Anglo-Irish Agreement . But already in the 1987 election, the party suffered heavy losses. FitzGerald then resigned. Alan Dukes , former Treasury Secretary and representative of the social-democratic wing of Fine Gael, succeeded him.

Relegation and the Rainbow Coalition

Despite Alan Dukes' "Tallaght strategy", the party was only able to gain a foothold to a limited extent and in the 1989 election only gained 4 seats. Dukes had kept Fianna Fáil in power for the past two years with his Tallaght strategy. Tallaght is a suburb of Dublin where Dukes gave a speech to the Chamber of Commerce on September 2, 1987. The most important statement he made was: “ If the government does the right things, I don't want to fight it and block it for partisan reasons. "

In 1990 Fine Gael's presidential candidate Austin Currie landed on a disgraceful 3rd and last place behind the winner Mary Robinson (Labor Party) and Brian Lenihan (Fianna Fáil). This eventually led to Dukes being replaced by John Bruton as chairman.

After Fianna Fáil entered into a coalition with the Labor Party in 1992, everyone feared the political dominance of Fianna Fáil, who had abandoned their principle of not entering into a coalition in 1989 and now, after the Progressive Democrats, apparently changed coalition partners at will. But in 1994 this coalition failed and with Bruton as Taoiseach the so-called Rainbow Coalition of Fine Gael, Labor Party and Democratic Left came to power on December 15th . This happened without a new election being held and was made possible because Fine Gael won two by-elections. The first initiative of this coalition was the introduction of divorce through a (narrowly won) constitutional amendment . In addition to an unforeseeable economic upswing, the republic experienced its first budget surplus in more than 20 years. This contrasted with the end of the Provisional IRA's ceasefire in 1996.

The three parties ran together in the 1997 election, but Fine Gael's gains (9 seats) were offset by far greater losses (16 seats) in the Labor Party, and so Fianna Fáil came back to power as part of a coalition.

Crash and a fresh start

The new Taoiseach was Bertie Ahern , who was nicknamed "Teflon Taoiseach", alluding to the fact that nothing of political affairs stuck to him. Fine Gaels Bruton made way for his successor Michael Noonan in 2001 . Noonan and his runner-up Jim Mitchell were considered a "dream team", but Fine Gael lost 23 seats in the 2002 election. Noonan resigned on election night and was replaced by Enda Kenny . Because of the election result, there were many votes that questioned the future of the party.

But Fine Gael was able to assert himself in the municipal elections and the 2004 European elections. In the European elections, the party won 5 out of 13 Irish seats (Fianna Fáil only managed 4) and at the municipal level they won almost the same number of seats as Fianna Fáil. Under Kenny's chairmanship, Fine Gael signed a pre-election pact with the Labor Party in order to be able to offer the electorate an alternative government proposal in the upcoming election. Although the party gained 20 seats to 51 seats in the elections, it was not enough to take over government.

The Cowen government, discredited by the economic crisis, lost massive support in the early elections on February 25, 2011, so that the significantly strengthened Fine Gael, with 76 seats, became by far the strongest party in the Dáil Éireann and with Enda Kenny the Prime Minister ( Taoiseach ) posed. In the election on February 26, 2016, it remained the strongest party with 50 out of 158 MPs, despite a sharp drop in votes, and has since formed a minority government that is tolerated by the Fianna Fáil , including a few independent MPs . On May 17, 2017, Kenny resigned from his position as party leader of Fine Gael with effect from May 18, 2017 and at the same time stated that he would only hold the office of Taoiseach until a successor was named on June 2. The Irish Parliament elected Leo Varadkar as his successor on June 14, 2017.

Fine Gael Chairwoman

Unless otherwise stated, the chairman also acted as parliamentary leader

Young Fine Gael

Young Fine Gael (YFG) is the youth wing of the Fine Gael party, which was founded by Garret FitzGerald in 1977 and plays an active role within the party. The organization has over 100 local chapters across the country.

Election results

year choice Share of votes Seats
1973 IrelandIreland Dáil Éireann 1973 35.1%
1977 IrelandIreland Dáil Éireann 1977 30.5%
1981 IrelandIreland Dáil Éireann 1981 36.5%
Feb 1982 IrelandIreland Dáil Éireann Feb. 1982 37.3%
Nov 1982 IrelandIreland Dáil Éireann Nov. 1982 39.2%
1987 IrelandIreland Dáil Éireann 1987 27.1%
1989 IrelandIreland Dáil Éireann 1989 29.3%
1992 IrelandIreland Dáil Éireann 1992 24.5%
1997 IrelandIreland Dáil Éireann 1997 27.9%
2002 IrelandIreland Dáil Éireann 2002 22.5%
2007 IrelandIreland Dáil Éireann 2007 27.3%
2011 IrelandIreland Dáil Éireann 2011 36.1%
2016 IrelandIreland Dáil Éireann 2016 25.5%
2020 IrelandIreland Dáil Éireann 2020 20.9%

Web links

Commons : Fine Gael  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Henry McDonald: Ireland's general election - the Guardian briefing. In: the Guardian. February 18, 2016, accessed May 18, 2016 .
  2. ^ Fine Gael: Our Values. In: Fine Gael. Retrieved May 18, 2016 .
  3. New Irish government wants to renegotiate EU aid. Retrieved March 1, 2011 .
  4. Henry McDonald, Enda Kenny announces resignation as Fine Gael leader, in: The Guardian, May 17, 2017, accessed April 10, 2019
  5. ^ Leo Varadkar becomes Republic of Ireland's taoiseach. In: BBC News. June 14, 2017 (, accessed April 10, 2019