Officials have begun counting votes in Ireland’s election but the result may already be clear. Exit polls showed Prime Minister Bertie Ahern’s Fianna Fail party in the lead, with more than 41 percent of the vote. A survey from Irish broadcaster RTE showed the main opposition party Fine Gael had little over 26 percent support.
Though Ahern may be a front-runner, the figures showed he could have to find a new partner if he wants a majority in Parliament. The exit polls suggest his allies, the Progressive Democrats, are down a few percentage points from the last election in 2002. Together they garner only 44 percent of the vote.
So if official results mirror the polls, he may have to lure Labour or the Greens to his camp. Exit polls showed Labour with close to 10 percent and the Greens with almost five percent of the vote. But analysts are warning against making too early a prediction before official results come out on Saturday. So Ireland will be holding its breath to find out whether Bertie Ahern fulfils his early promise and wins a third successive term in power.