Cowen Teeters as Greens Quit Irish Gov't
Elections now likely for February
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 23, 2011 11:19 AM CST
This is a Monday Nov. 22, 2010. file photo of Ireland's Green Party leader and Environment Minister John Gormley, outside Leinster House, Dublin, Ireland.   (Peter Morrison)
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(Newser) – Ireland's small but critical Green Party quit the coalition government today, just a day after Irish PM Brian Cowen stepped down as party chair but sought to hold on to his seat. The move puts pressure on Cowen to quit as the Greens join the opposition in calling for March 11 elections to be moved up into February. With the Greens' withdrawal, Cowen now has only seven of 15 Cabinet ministers remaining—the minimum required by the constitution, notes the AP.

"The Irish people want to see political certainty, economic certainty, and they do want an election," says Green Party leader John Gormley. Left outstanding is the 2011 Finance Bill, which will drastically raise income taxes as part of Ireland's bailout, and opposition leaders are threatening Cowen with a no-confidence vote if it's not passed by Friday. "It's not possible to deal with it in a week," Cowen said. A new election date is expected this week.