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Ireland's Major Parties near Coalition Deal

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TEHRAN, March 6 (ICANA) – Ireland's two largest parliamentary parties, Fine Gael and Labor, have concluded negotiations on a draft plan to form a new coalition government.
Sunday, March 06, 2011 7:06:02 PM
Ireland's Major Parties near Coalition Deal

“Negotiations between Fine Gael and the Labor Party on the formation of a government concluded early this morning,” the Fine Gael said in a statement on Sunday, The Wall Street Journal reported.

“A draft program for government will be discussed at a meeting of the Fine Gael parliamentary party today” added the statement about the meeting scheduled to be held in Ireland's capital city of Dublin.

Fine Gael and Labor topped February's legislative elections. The center-right Fine Gael fell short of a majority in parliament with 76 seats, while the center-left Labor took 37 seats of the 166-member legislature.

Leaders of the two parties say they will now hold talks on their government's program to tackle the budget deficit and public sector cuts.

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny will almost certainly be voted prime minister when the Irish parliament meets on Wednesday.

Last week's election saw the former ruling party Fianna Fail roundly defeated due to its poor handling of Ireland's bank debts and overall economic crisis.

Ireland's economy has shrunk around 15 percent since 2008 and unemployment has almost trebled, helping push the budget deficit to around 12 percent of gross domestic product last year.

Ireland accepted a European Union-led 85 billion euro ($119 billion) bailout in November to prop up its troubled banking sector.

Under the terms of the bailout deal the country has been given until 2015 to reduce its deficit to 3 percent of GDP.

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