Coveney wins support of ordinary Fine Gael members

Simon Coveney picked up 65% of the vote from members, compared to 35% for Leo Varadkar

Coveney wins support of ordinary Fine Gael members

Image: Sam Boal

Simon Coveney has won an overwhelming majority of the votes from grassroots members of Fine Gael.

However, Leo Varadkar's team remain confident he will be announced as the next leader of the party and become Taoiseach elect this evening after the more valuable parliamentary party votes are counted.

Simon Coveney picked up 7,051 votes from members, while Leo Varadkar won 3,772 votes. 

Minister Varadkar managed to regain some ground as more votes were counted, but Minister Coveney still enjoyed a 30 point lead.

Members count for 25% of the electoral college.

Minister Varadkar, meanwhile, managed to win the support of more Fine Gael local councillors, who account for 10% of the electoral college.

In the final stage of the contest, the highly valuable 73 parliamentary votes will be counted.

Simon Coveney will need 33 of those to win, but that would require seven switches from Team Varadkar.

That is unlikely, given that his team are adamant that most - if not all - of Varadkar's parliamentary supporters even signed their ballots.

Health Minister Simon Harris - one of the few Cabinet members to publicly support Minister Coveney - remains hopeful that the parliamentary party can turn the way of Simon Coveney.

"I certainly know Simon has been engaged in many conversations with colleagues in recent days," Minister Harris observed.

The Taoiseach Enda Kenny, meanwhile, has tweeted his best wishes to Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney, while also reminiscing on his time as leader.

"I remember this day almost 15 years ago & the sense of excitement & possibility," he said. 

Enda Kenny says he will pledge his full support to whoever is elected to take over from him as Fine Gael leader.

The current Taoiseach will remain in the role in an acting capacity until the Dáil confirms a successor.