Fine Gael had been in decline for nearly a decade; from the highpoint of the November 1982 general election when it achieved 70 seats in Dáil Éireann only five seats short of Fianna Fáil's total the party had lost a considerable number of seats. First leadership bid
The minority Fianna Fáil government which followed only lasted until November 1982 when Fine Gael once again returned to power in a coalition government with the Labour Party but when the new government was formed Bruton was moved from Finance to become Minister for Industry and Energy. Having gone into the election expecting to increase its seat count from 54 to 60 it only won 31.
Bruton was first elected to Dáil Éireann as a TD for Meath in 1969 and served continuously until his retirement from domestic politics in 2004. John Gerard Bruton (born 18 May 1947) is an Irish politician who served as Taoiseach (prime minister) of Ireland from 1994 to 1997. A minister under two taoisigh Liam Cosgrave and Garret FitzGerald Bruton held a number of the top posts in Irish government including Minister for Finance (1981–1982 and 1986–1987) and Minister for Industry Trade Commerce and Tourism (1983–1986).