Anything BoJo can do at Westminster, Leo can copy in Leinster House! That seems to have been the thinking behind the Fine Gael strategy when the Irish General Election takes place on Saturday 8 February - just days after Brexit on 31 January.
Outgoing Taoiseach Leo Varadkar will be hoping to copy British Prime Minister Boris Johnston in calling an election to secure an overall majority for his centre Right party.
Varadkar will be hoping the BoJo deal will avoid a hard border, thereby securing the future of the Irish economy, especially as the threat of Direct Rule from Westminster encouraged the Northern Ireland parties to reform the Northern Ireland power-sharing Executive which had been suspended for three years.
However, given the nature of Southern Irish politics, it is unlikely that Varadkar will be able to secure an outright majority in the Dail and will rely on the support of smaller parties, such as Independents, Irish Labour, the Greens, or the staunchly pro-life Aontu party to form a coalition government.
Ironically, Varadkar could find himself in the same scenario as Johnston and May - having a ‘confidence and supply’ style arrangement with the DUP, except in Varadkar’s position, a deal with the smaller parties.
If Varadkar cannot convince voters there will be no hard border post-Brexit, that will swing the polls in favour of the current opposition Fianna Fail party which will also need the help of smaller parties to form a Dail coalition government.
Fianna Fail is just one of a number of Southern Irish parties trying to portray themselves as the campaigning champions against austerity in the Republic, by adopting a so-called ‘soft socialist’ approach.
Long-term, the next Irish government will have to prepare for a number of options, including a closer British-Irish relationship on Northern Ireland to implement Brexit, the possibility of Southern Ireland having to leave the EU, or leave the eurozone and reintroduce the Irish pound (punt) in the same way as Hungary operates its own unique currency.
As with December’s Westminster election outcome in Northern Ireland, the Dail election could once again leave Sinn Fein out in the cold as neither Fine Gael nor Fianna Fail are prepared to form a coalition government with the Provisional IRA’s political wing.
But if British and Northern Irish politics are taken as a benchmark, anything could be possible, so don’t rule out the impossible.
After all, DUP founder and former Free Presbyterian Moderator Rev Ian Paisley did enter a power-sharing Executive with Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness, and two Tory Prime Ministers - Theresa May and Johnston - did agree to the ‘confidence and supply arrangement’ with the DUP. So don’t rule out U-turns in Leinster House when it comes to coalitions. The Shinners could still be in with a shout!
But Mary Lou McDonald and her team will have to box very clever with the Southern electorate to sell their brand of so-called ‘soft socialism’ to voters. The key to retaining Sinn Fein’s 20-plus TDs will be the choice of candidates. In short, every Shinner candidate must openly be a ‘draft dodger’! That is, no connections to the Provisional IRA.
In Northern Ireland, long gone are the days of 1980s elections when to become a high-profile Sinn Fein candidate, one of the criteria was that you had to have been an ex-prisoner or possess some link to the Provos.
In Northern Ireland, a conviction or suspicion for attacking the police was an electoral ‘brownie point’ for a Sinn Fein candidate, but in the Republic, any Sinn Fein candidate suspected of any attack on a Garda was a clear - and still is - a major vote loser.
With a number of crucial centenaries for republicanism coming up in the next few years, Sinn Fein will have to tread very carefully electorally as to how it portrays its ‘patriotic dead’.
Given the reputation of the Black and Tans, Sinn Fein can have an electoral ‘by-ball’, in terms of the War of Independence commemorations and the centenary of the Anglo-Irish Treaty which introduced partition.
The real problem for Sinn Fein comes when talk of the Irish Civil War centenary commemorations is mentioned - a time when the Free State forces executed more members of the anti-Treaty IRA than were killed by the British in the so-called ‘Tan War’.
And then there’s the pogroms which the IRA ran against the Southern Protestant community in the years following partition. Republican revisionists will be burning the midnight oil trying to airbrush the Free State forces’ Tan-style brutality against anti-Treaty republicans and the anti-Protestant pogroms out of Irish history.
While both Fianna Fail and Fine Gael would love to have outright majorities in the Dail after 8th February, the most likely outcome will inevitably be yet another coalition government.
So the key question becomes - who might either Leo Varadkar or his Fianna Fail rival Micheal Martin do business with to form the next Dail coalition government? In short, do the Shinners have a look in?
Both Leo and Micheal may seek the help of Irish Labour, the Greens, or Independents to prop up their governments, but is there any realistic chance Shinner boss Mary Lou McDonald could become Tanaiste?
Could the unthinkable happen that either Varadkar or Martin does a U-turn and accepts Sinn Fein into government, or even the pro-life Aontu party - formed by a former Sinn Fein TD - secures a handful of seats and tips the balance of power in favour of one of the so-called ‘Big Two’?
It would be one of the ironies of Irish politics that Sinn Fein remains outside the coalition government, but a party like Aontu - which was conceived in Sinn Fein - becomes a coalition partner.