Just how quickly could Fine Gael change leader in the event of a snap or accidental second election in 2016? The answer is: much faster than you think. Whilst Fine Gael does have an electoral college to choose its party leader, a process that could take weeks at a minimum, there’s nothing to stop the FG parliamentary party, within a few days, meeting and designating a formal candidate for Taoiseach to lead the party into the election. Sure, maybe the members might get upset, but bear in mind that the right to nominate a candidate for Taoiseach is constitutionally reserved to members of the Dail, and it’s not something any court will interfere with.
After all, let’s not forget that the very first Fine Gael Taoiseach, John A. Costello, wasn’t leader of the party either. It would also allow FG to move very quickly in the event of a snap election to radically change the situation, with Michael Martin suddenly finding himself facing off not against Enda, the known quantity, but Leo or Frances Fitzgerald. Forgive the use of an awfully overused phrase, but it would actually be a game changer.