DUBLIN — Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen faces a fight for political survival as he rebuffed pressure to resign and a senior Cabinet colleague announced he would challenge him for the party leadership.
Foreign Minister Micheal Martin said he had "reluctantly concluded" that Cowen would have to be forced from office since he refused to go voluntarily. The two face a showdown Tuesday when lawmakers of the long-ruling Fianna Fail party gather to vote whether to keep Cowen or promote Martin.
At stake is the course of Ireland's fightback from a European-record deficit amid a €67.5 billion ($90 billion) international bailout. The leadership tussle within Fianna Fail — "Soldiers of Destiny" in Gaelic — raised new doubt over whether lawmakers would be able to pass a deficit-slashing bill without a national election first.