Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe is expected to put himself forward as a candidate for the presidency of the Eurogroup, the influential club of finance ministers of countries that use the euro.
The Minister will be forced to show his hand because the deadline for candidacies is on Thursday, which makes for awkward timing because parties do not conclude voting on the programme for government until Friday.
“It’s tricky for him. It’s a gamble,” said one EU official. “But if he runs, he would be a serious candidate.”
Mr Donohoe is thought to have wide support as a potential compromise candidate among Eurogroup members, as Ireland is viewed as a middle-ground country that straddles Europe’s north-south divisions on economic matters.
The job involves forging consensus in the informal but powerful group and would come at a crucial time ahead of an expected downturn across the EU.
The campaign by Spain’s deputy prime minister for the economy, Nadia Calviño, has already kicked off, and Mr Donohoe’s supporters in Europe have been forced to grapple with the complexities of Irish coalition formation in recent days in an attempt to understand whether his candidacy is certain.
Luxembourg’s finance minister, Pierre Gramegna, has also been named as a potential contender for the job.
It is generally expected in political circles in Dublin that Mr Donohoe will remain on as Minister for Finance if the coalition between Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Greens takes office this weekend.
Leaders Micheál Martin, Leo Varadkar and Eamon Ryan will meet on Thursday to discuss the allocation of ministerial portfolios.
If Mr Donohoe applies for the Eurogroup position, it will be taken as an indication that he is confident he will stay in the Department of Finance.
Such a scenario would likely see Fianna Fáil’s Michael McGrath become minister for public expenditure and reform, with Mr Donohoe and Mr McGrath swapping roles when Mr Varadkar takes over as taoiseach from Mr Martin in 2022.
Voting is due to take place on July 9th, by which time Mr Donohoe’s position as finance minister will need to be clear, for him to have a chance of success.