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Irish Prime Minister Cowen survives second no-confidence vote

Despite being largely unpopular amid a deep economic recession, Brian Cowen maintained the Irish parliament's confidence on Tuesday and defeated opposition attempts to oust him.

Brian Cowen

Cowen said opposition leaders failed to see the crisis too

Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen won a no-confidence vote in parliament Tuesday after six hours of debate over his government's ability to lead Ireland through a deep recession.

The vote, which gave Cowen 82 in favor and 77 against, came at the call of the opposition Fine Gael party after two recent reports criticized the government's policies in the years before Ireland's banking crisis. It was his second no-confidence vote in just over a year.

Speaking to lawmakers, Cowen admitted that his government failed to foresee the collapse of Ireland's property boom in 2008, but countered that the opposition did not see it coming either.

"Accepting due responsibility, as I do, does not oblige me to accept the rewriting of history and the bare-faced denials about their record on the part of the opposition," he said.

Narrow majority

Cowen's victory was thanks to his junior coalition partners, the Greens, who have remained loyal in recent months in an effort to stabilize their small majority in parliament.

"Unless the Greens pull the plug, he (Cowen) is as stable as they can be at this stage," said David Farrell, professor of politics at University College Dublin.

Ireland is one of many European countries that have made tough budget cuts to reduce high national debt and boost investor confidence. While economists have praised Ireland's discipline, Cowen and his Fianna Fail party have been more and more unpopular since the country's recession began.

Author: Andrew Bowen (AP/Reuters)
Editor: Nicole Goebel

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