Europe

Ireland's Fianna Fail party rules out historic coalition

  • FILE - In this Friday, Feb. 19, 2016 file photo, Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny, left, as he speaks with members of his delegation at the conclusion of an EU summit in Brussels. Ireland remains mired in political limbo after lawmakers overwhelmingly rejected all three candidates to lead the country’s next government. The inconclusive votes on Wednesday, April 6, 2016 represented the second time that lawmakers have failed to select a prime minister following Ireland’s Feb. 26 election. That poll 40 days ago left the two traditional enemies of political life - Prime Minister Enda Kenny’s Fine Gael and Micheal Martin’s Fianna Fail - virtually neck and neck in a fractured parliament. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert, File)

    FILE - In this Friday, Feb. 19, 2016 file photo, Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny, left, as he speaks with members of his delegation at the conclusion of an EU summit in Brussels. Ireland remains mired in political limbo after lawmakers overwhelmingly rejected all three candidates to lead the country’s next government. The inconclusive votes on Wednesday, April 6, 2016 represented the second time that lawmakers have failed to select a prime minister following Ireland’s Feb. 26 election. That poll 40 days ago left the two traditional enemies of political life - Prime Minister Enda Kenny’s Fine Gael and Micheal Martin’s Fianna Fail - virtually neck and neck in a fractured parliament. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2010 file photo, leader of Fianna Fail Michael Martin speaks to the media during a press conference in Dublin, Ireland. Ireland remains mired in political limbo after lawmakers overwhelmingly rejected all three candidates to lead the country’s next government. The inconclusive votes on Wednesday, April 6, 2016 represented the second time that lawmakers have failed to select a prime minister following Ireland’s Feb. 26 election. That poll 40 days ago left the two traditional enemies of political life - Prime Minister Enda Kenny’s Fine Gael and Micheal Martin’s Fianna Fail - virtually neck and neck in a fractured parliament. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison, file)

    FILE - In this Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2010 file photo, leader of Fianna Fail Michael Martin speaks to the media during a press conference in Dublin, Ireland. Ireland remains mired in political limbo after lawmakers overwhelmingly rejected all three candidates to lead the country’s next government. The inconclusive votes on Wednesday, April 6, 2016 represented the second time that lawmakers have failed to select a prime minister following Ireland’s Feb. 26 election. That poll 40 days ago left the two traditional enemies of political life - Prime Minister Enda Kenny’s Fine Gael and Micheal Martin’s Fianna Fail - virtually neck and neck in a fractured parliament. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison, file)  (The Associated Press)

Hopes of forging a historic coalition between Ireland's two traditional political foes have been dashed after one party, Fianna Fail, decided it cannot partner Prime Minister Enda Kenny in government.

Thursday's decision at a Dublin meeting of Fianna Fail lawmakers leaves two possible outcomes from Ireland's inconclusive election. That Feb. 26 vote reduced Kenny's Fine Gael to nearly equal terms with Fianna Fail in an exceptionally fractured parliament.

Either party could try to form a weak minority government that would require the other party's acquiescence in parliamentary votes to survive. Ireland last had such a government in 1987-89, when a Fianna Fail administration negotiated vote-by-vote backing from Fine Gael. Fianna Fail has never returned that favor.

Kenny could call a second election in hopes of strengthening his center-ground party's position.