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“Cowen bows out with call for respectful election campaign,” headlines the Irish Times, following the 1 February dissolution of the Dáil (Irish parliament) ahead of the 25 February general election. After the announcement that he would retire from public life, Taoiseach Brian Cowen – the first European leader to fall over the eurozone crisis – called for “respectful” debate over the state’s future. In a farewell speech, the Taoiseach, who had presided over Ireland’s economic crash, its humiliating EU/IMF bailout and subsequent loss of sovereignty, said, “This election should not be about personalities but serious debate, reflection and the solemn business of democracy.” The national press, in a forgiving mood, hails Cowen’s “personal integrity”. As the Irish Independent leaders notes – “Napoleon wanted his generals to be lucky. As Brian Cowen's political career comes to what is undoubtedly a sad end, he can reflect that he did not have much luck.”