Updated: 19/05/17 : 03:00:06
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Three poll tests facing next leader of Fine Gael

By Eugene McGloin
Political Editor

THE NEXT leader of Fine Gael could face several significant election defeats in his first eighteen months.

Surely that's the first defeat; here we are in the 21st century and confined to a leadership discussion on 'his' and no 'her' in sight.

So much for the lip service and (forced) gender quotas.....promoted by Fine Gael.

Strong Claim

Mind you, that stat surely guarantees that the new leader's deputy will be female.

Heather Humphreys staked a confident, strong claim on that sinecure yesterday. 

Leadership, whether the party or the country, carries a good few stings in its tales.

Fine Gael's first big defeat could -- no, would -- be in the election of a new Irish President.

The party couldn't hit a cows arse with a banjo when it comes to chasing down votes to be President.

In Fine Gael it will be fingers crossed and toes and ears all crossed that we don't have to pick a new President any time soon.

Support Stampede

So, if Michael D decides to stay put the first stampede of support is likely to come from Fine Gael.

However, the party cannot avoid the local elections in early 2019.

The positive there for the new party leader is that Fine Gael can hardly do worse than it did in May 2014. Let's wait and see.

The really big poll which the new Fine Gael party leader could face is a general election.

Collapse Deal

Frank Flannery said on RTÉ ''Prime Time'' on Wednesday night that we could be facing such an election in 12 months.

He is a former key strategist in Fine Gael and Flannery may have (unintentionally) let the cat out of the bag.

Fine Gael cannot, will not, wait for Fáil Fáil to select the most opportune moment (for its party) to collapse the deal which props up the current minority Government.

So, will the new leader seek his own 'mandate' some time within that twelve months timeframe, an election on the next leader's terms and not of his rivals.

The precedent for 'fresh mandates' has been set by Theresa May, with whose party Fine Gael has more in common than it cares to admit.

Hymn Sheet

In the list of potential defeats described above there is no mention of a referendum around the Eighth Amendment.

Or the recommendations from the ''Citizens Assembly,'' a body with neither a Constitutional basis or democratic mandate.

The ''Citizens Assembly'' had not a single representative from a swathe of counties, including Sligo. 

The Left joined with the Right and stayed silent on that one, in the Dail anyway.

Even those who don't believe in prayer, sang from the Fine Gael hymn sheet on that one in the Dáil. 

Finally, the leader now waiting in line might riposte and say it will win all, or most, of the polls outlined. Indeed.