Irish election count due to begin

A returning officer adjusts a sign at a polling station in Castlebar, County Mayo, as voters go to the polls all around the state on FridayImage copyright

Image caption

A returning officer adjusts a sign at a polling station in Castlebar, County Mayo, as voters went to the polls on Friday

Counting in the Republic of Ireland’s election is due to begin at 09:00 local time on Saturday.

An exit poll commissioned by the Irish Times suggests that Fine Gael will remain the largest party with 26%.

However Fianna Fáil, the main opposition, appears to be close behind on 23%.

The Irish Times poll puts Sinn Féin at 15%, well ahead of Labour, the junior coalition partners, on 8%.

The Irish broadcaster, RTE, is unveiling its own exit poll on Saturday morning.


The early indications are that there was a turnout of about 66%.

Over three million people were entitled to vote in 40 constituencies, but not all did so.

They are electing 157 TDs. The Ceann Comhairle (speaker) is automatically returned.

Observers are predicting that it will be hard for any party to put together a coalition, which needs to have the support of 79 TDs.

Polling stations opened at 07:00 local time on Friday and closed at 22:00.

Opinion polls have consistently suggested there will be a hung Dáil (parliament), with Fine Gael, the main government party, expected to win the largest number of seats.

Enda Kenny is hoping to become the country’s first leader to be returned as Taoiseach (prime minister).

Labour is expected to suffer heavy losses.

Fianna Fáil is likely to make gains, but nowhere near the 40% it was once accustomed to.

Image copyright
AFP/Getty Images

Image caption

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

As for Sinn Féin, it will almost certainly improve on the 14 seats it currently has. Whether or not it comes close to doubling that number will become clearer once counting begins.

The campaign was fought mainly over economic issues, with the government parties asking voters for their support to keep the recovery going at a time when international storm clouds are gathering.

But the opposition parties countered that not everyone, especially outside of middle-class Dublin, is yet benefiting from the up-turn.

That perceived lack of fairness is expected to hurt the coalition parties.

The Republic of Ireland has had the biggest growing economy in the Eurozone for the last two years.

In the last election five years ago, voters punished the once dominant Fianna Fáil for its role in the economic crash that required an EU-IMF bailout.

The outgoing government was a coalition between the largest political party, Fine Gael, and the Labour Party.

Led by Enda Kenny, the coalition had been in power for almost five years – since March 2011.

They are being challenged by 13 other parties, including the largest opposition party, Fianna Fáil, led by Micheál Martin, and Sinn Féin, led by Gerry Adams.

There are also a number of independents among the 552 candidates standing for election.

Image caption

Voting in Letterkenny, County Donegal

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 others.

The election count is expected to last the weekend.

comments powered by Disqus