Ireland is bracing itself for one of its biggest political shake-ups since independence after polls in the country’s general election closed.
Ruling Fianna Fail looks almost certain to be reduced to a rump amid voter anger over the economy.
The centre-right opposition Fine Gael, led by Enda Kenny, appears set to be the big winners, although whether the party can achieve an outright majority still remains too close to call.
Kenny has promised to renegotiate the terms of a massive multi-billion euro bailout from the EU and IMF. But, Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams, who is contesting in the Irish Republic for the first time, has called for a referendum on the rescue deal.
Voter turnout yesterday was estimated at around 70 percent and the first results are expected to filter through later today.
Reckless property lending by Irish banks and the subsequent crisis following the global credit crunch has seen Ireland go from economic pin-up to eurozone struggler. So much so, many people are returning to farming. While most other sectors of Ireland’s economy are seeing job cuts, agriculture is reported to be booming.