1. The Status Quo. Enda is Taoiseach until the first vote, then acting Taoiseach until replaced. Theoretically, he could remain indefinitely, although wouldn’t be able to replace all the cabinet ministers who lost their seats.
2. FF/FG coalition. The safe long haul option and hard to see happening, despite the logic of it. FF/FG means Sinn Fein as the opposition, which is exactly what Sinn Fein want as part of the long term plan to lead a government as the main party.
2. FG/Lab minority with FF support on Taoiseach. More likely, but immediately puts pressure on FF to take responsibility for anything the govt does, and will give Sinn Fein ammunition to use in the assumed early election in the next 18 months. Also raises the question of whether Lab will go back into govt, or may decide to return to opposition to rebuild.
3. The 1948 option. FF or FG could attempt to assemble a majority with all sorts from Inds, Social Democrats, Greens but would need SF support either inside or outside. Hard to see it happen, but this is Ireland.
4. Enda to make a extraordinary offer to FF, say Micheal as Taoiseach, with clear understanding that a failure to agree means a snap second election. Hoping that FF will take the rap for an unnecessary election.
There are also three factors which could come into play:
1. The president could get involved, continental style. Although he doesn’t have a formal role, it would be hard for party leaders to refuse an invitation from him to attend talks in the Park.
2. A leadership change in FG. This is a tricky one for FF. If Enda steps down quickly, perhaps even before a new Dail meets, would FF really want to face an election with a fresh Taoiseach? It’s true, FG has a convoluted leadership election system, but in the current crisis the FG PP could name a “parliamentary leader” as candidate for Taoiseach, after soundings with the grass roots.
3. Finally, a secret ballot elected Ceann Comhairle is going to play a big role in a parliament without a majority but also because he/she won’t be automatically loyal to the government, which will be new.
Not going to be boring….