THREE of the country's leading economic commentators now look set to contest the upcoming general election, raising the prospect of a new reform-based political force emerging.

High-profile economist and author David McWilliams is believed to be planning to run as an independent candidate in the Dun Laoghaire constituency.

Another strong critic of the government's banking and economic policy, Paul Somerville, a senior figure in Delta Index who was particularly vocal around the time of the EU/IMF bailout, is running in Dublin South East. A source close to him said he is expected to announce his bid to run as an independent on a "reform platform" later this week.

The Sunday Tribune last week revealed that Senator Shane Ross, who has been a senator since 1981, was "giving serious consideration" to standing for the Dáil, most probably in Dublin South.

The emergence of the three candidates has echoes of the short-lived Business and Professional Group, also known as the Businessmen's Party, which won three Dáil seats in Dublin in the 1923 general election.

McWilliams' household name would put him in a good position to win a seat, even in the ultra-competitive Dun Laoghaire constituency. Efforts to contact McWilliams yesterday were unsuccessful.

Sources close to Somerville said he has similar policy ideas to McWilliams and Ross and that the three could come together and stand as independent candidates with a shared business platform.