I’d have thought it would be better for Fianna Fáil to let Cowen stay on. Whoever leads them through the election is going to suffer a huge, possibly fatal, blow to their political career. Cowen… Well he has nothing left to lose. Why not let him absorb the damage? They must have come to the conclusion that the electoral result under Cowen would be such a wipe-out that it will be worth sacrificing one of their players.
Any one of their players. Though the grey ghosts that haunt the higher echelons of Fianna Fáil can pretty much directly pressure a leader into resigning, they cannot dictate who the party as a whole will elect as replacement. Heavily influence certainly, but not quite dictate. A shoo-in as when Cowen replaced Ahern is not going to be possible with party discipline in its current parlous state.
There is going to be a leadership fight, and the biggest loser will be the winner.
The ideal outcome of course is that they will get a new leader that they can afford to sacrifice. Someone sufficiently experienced for the electorate to take seriously, attractive enough to help prevent them being entirely wiped out, but who was never really a serious future election-winner. Hanafin perhaps. First female FF leader, it would seem fresh. Cynical, yet fresh. On the other hand Brian Lenihan sustained a lot of damage as Minister for Finance and his health problems militated against him ever becoming Taoiseach anyway. He has a brother to continue the dynasty. Maybe now is the time to play his card.
And as I write, rumour reaches me that Ó Cuív will stand. That has to be a sacrifice candidate. I mean, Ó Cuív. He is surely more decorative than useful. Still, it would be cute if the history of Fianna Fáil had matching bookends.