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Greens clear way for Micheál Martin to become Irish prime minister

DUBLIN — All three parties in Ireland’s next coalition government voted in favor of a pact that brings the nation’s historic political rivals together for the first time.

The parties that have agreed to share power — outgoing Prime Minister Leo Varadkar’s Fine Gael, Prime Minister-designate Micheál Martin’s Fianna Fáil and Eamon Ryan’s Greens — all required their party memberships to ratify the pact in separate votes.

Had any rejected the deal, no party would have been able to form a government. A second 2020 election could well have been the outcome — hardly ideal in a country only starting to emerge from a national COVID-19 lockdown and with a potential no-deal Brexit on the horizon.

Members of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil heartily endorsed the pact as expected, a key moment for rival centrist forces that have never shared power and trace their roots to opposite sides of the civil war that capped Ireland’s bloody birth as a nation a century ago.

Yet the deal could have been sunk by the left-wing Greens, who permitted more than 1,900 grassroots members to vote on the deal amid an air of open rebellion against party leaders.

Their ballots took all day — and much of the evening — to count. Without the Greens, the proposed coalition would command too few votes in parliament to govern.

Martin will be formally elected prime minister on Saturday in a special sitting of parliament.

The Greens’ rebellious youth wing roundly rejected the deal. But Green leader Ryan — who enlisted American actor Mark Ruffalo earlier this week to address grassroots members as part of his sales pitch to back the deal — prevailed with 76 percent support from the 1,892 ballots cast.

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