Voting set to begin in Irish election

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Voters will cast their ballots in polling stations across 40 different constituencies in the Republic of Ireland

Voters in the Republic of Ireland are going to the polls on Friday to elect 157 new members of parliament.

The Irish parliament (Dáil) has reduced in size, meaning any new government needs the support of nearly 80 elected members (called Teachtaí Dála or TDs).

More than 3m people are eligible to vote, including Irish and UK citizens.

Polling stations across 40 different constituencies will open at 07:00 local time (same as GMT) and will close at 22:00 on Friday.

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Special arrangements were made for Irish islands, such as Inishfree off the west coast, where voters cast their ballots a day before the rest of the electorate

More than 2,000 voters living on Irish islands off the coast of counties Donegal, Mayo and Galway got the chance to cast their ballots on Thursday.

TDs will be elected according to the single transferable vote (STV) system, in which candidates have to reach a quota, before their surplus votes are distributed to other candidates.

There will be a total of 158 seats in the next parliament, but one of them has already been filled.

That is because, under Irish electoral law, the Speaker (Ceann Comhairle) is automatically re-elected unless they have announced their intention to retire.

The election count is expected to last over the weekend.

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