- Voting underway on Friday
- 157 seats to be decided
- Polls suggest governing coalition lead has slipped
Voting is under way in the Republic of Ireland as the country elects 157 new members of parliament.
The outgoing government was a coalition between Fine Gael, the largest political party, Fine Gael, and the Labour Party.
The coalition has been in power since March 2011.
Challengers include the largest opposition party, Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin.
Counting begins on Saturday, with the first results will be declared in the early afternoon.
The final winners will not be declared until early next week.
The Irish Republic vote in five
- More than 3 million eligible to vote, including Irish and UK citizens
- 552 people standing for election
- 157 new members of parliament to be elected
- 40 different constituencies
- Governing coalition challenged by 13 other parties
The Irish parliament, or Dáil, has been reduced in size.
The new government will need the support of almost 80 elected members to have a majority.
What the polls say
Polls suggest support for Labour, the current junior coalition partner, has collapsed. Fine Gael, it is said, have let their wide lead slip.
Their combined vote has dipped to between 37 and 33 percent.
Analysts say the coalition will need 41 to 42 percent to form a government, likely to be with the support of some of the smaller parties or independent candidates.
Exit polls published early on Saturday will give
the first indication of whether Kenny’s party and
Labour have done enough to hold on to power.
The inside track
The outcome could hinge on the choice of undecided voters.
An unpredented alliance or “grand coalition” between Fine Gael and its centre-left rivals Fianna Fáil would be one option to break any deadlock that occurs.
However, there seems to be no will for the two historically-rival parties to team up.
Commentators also predict the alliance would be an uneasy and potentially unstable one.
What they are saying
“Well, I would like to see change and I would like to see more openness in government. I would like to see more equality across the spectrum for all people and I would like to see the situation solved with the housing crisis.” – voter.
“We also felt that we were very badly treated and that the last cent was just milked from us, so we were not happy about that either. I would like to see a change in some format, maybe Social Democrats and a government that will listen to the people.” – voter.