The embattled Irish leader revealed his Fine Gael party is not involved in coalition talks with any parties and said the “responsibility falls” on Sinn Féin to try to form the next government. His comments comes after Fine Gael came third in the popular vote, with Leo Varadkar himself only securing reelection at the fifth count – a major humiliation in Ireland’s electoral system, in which multiple MPs are elected per constituency.
Mr Varadkar said: “As I see the situation Sinn Fein emerged as the largest party, at least in terms of votes in this election.
“They won it marginally and they did so by making a lot promises to a lot of people in this country.
“The responsibility falls on them to build a coalition, to negotiate a socialist programme for government that keeps their promises and to seek a Dail majority for it.
“We are willing to step back and allow them do that.”
He said he not spoken to Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald, adding: “I have not been involved in any talks of that nature”.
His admission comes after pressure is building on Mr Varadkar to step down as party leader after Fine Gael got just under 20.9 percent of the vote – its worst ever election result – trailing behind rivals Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein.
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“It may have been a tight finish but that means people are saying to us that Fine Gael should go into opposition and we are absolutely willing to do that.
“In terms of what may happen later on in the process, in the next couple of weeks, we are the party that founded the state and if we are needed to give the country political stability and good governance, then we are willing to talk to other parties but in the first instance, the onus is on Sinn Fein.”
Sinn Fein are set to meet with a number of parties today to discuss the potential forming of a left-wing government.