Republic of Ireland political party founded in 1933 by William Cosgrave and led by Enda Kelly from 2002. It has been socially liberal in recent years but fiscally conservative. Although it formed several post-war coalition governments with the Labour and Democratic Left parties, most recently 1994–97, it has since been the main party of opposition.
Fine Gael formed in 1933 as a merger of political party Cumann na nGaedheal, which governed the Irish Free State 1923–32, and two minor parties. Cumann na nGaedheal, which supported the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty that established the Irish Free State, was founded as the pro-Treaty side of Sinn Fein. It was traditionally associated with larger farmers and the middle class, but tended to draw support from anyone traditionally on the pro-Treaty side. Fine Gael first gained power in that guise as the main party in the coalition governments of 1948–51 and 1954–57. These coalitions also contained small leftist parties. It regained power with the Labour Party 1973–77. In 1977 Fine Gael's new leader Garret FitzGerald moved the party towards social democracy making the 1981–82 and 1982–87 coalitions with Labour more natural, yet these still ended in rancour. The party seemed to flounder after FitzGerald's departure, but returned to government in 1994 as part of a rainbow coalition which included Labour and Democratic Left elements. Having lost power in 1997, the party then suffered its worst-ever electoral defeat in 2002 before recovering some ground in the 2007 general election.