Political stalemate beckons as early results suggest there has been no clear winner in the country's general election
- Exit polls suggest Fine Gael has narrow lead
- Opposition party Fianna Fáil not far behind
- Support for Sinn Fein soars
Exit polls in the Republic of Ireland’s general election suggest Fine Gael will continue as the largest party in the government.
However, the polls suggest the party will only have a narrow lead over its main rival, opposition party Fianna Fáil. The result, it is being said, is political stalemate and a hung parliament.
Watchers say there is very little chance for the outgoing Fine Gael-Labour coalition to be returned.
Polls also suggest support for Sinn Fein has almost doubled since the last election.
Forming a new government
Attention will now focus on negotiations to form a new government.
The concern is that a political deal would open the way for left-wing nationalists Sinn Fein to become the Irish Republic’s main opposition party.
Sinn Fein is the former political wing of the Irish Republican Army (IRA).
A deal between the party and either of its centre-right rivals appears unlikely.
However, some say a period as main opposition party could put Sinn Fein in a strong position to form the next government.
What the voters say
Voters are torn between continuing with the politics of austerity or opting for a situation of political instability.
“I think there has been small changes,” one female voter told Euronews. “I think there has been a bit of progression but I do not think there has been enough. Added to that would be the homelessness crisis, if there was enough work out there, if people were going out and getting work I do not think we would be facing those kind of issues.”
“A lot of people do not see the recovery,” said one male voter, “all they see is extra taxes, water tax, water charges is probably one of the big ones, that is probably why they (the government) get punishment (during an election)”.
— Enda Kenny (@EndaKennyTD) February 26, 2016
— Micheál Martin (@MichealMartinTD) February 26, 2016
2 hours 2 Go. Keep ur eye on the prize! Rise up. Bígí Linn. Votáil Sinn Féin. We can do it! pic.twitter.com/EFRlhoXmMs
— Gerry Adams (@GerryAdamsSF) February 26, 2016
Euronews correspondent Giacomo Segantini says 80 seats are needed for an absolute majority in the Irish Parliament.
“We will have to wait for the final results as the transferable voting system means some parties have a bonus quota. Several scenarios are possible and intense negotiations are expected in the Irish political world. “