Coalition government likely as Irish election enters second day of counting

Sinn Fein's Mary Lou McDonald, PM Leo Varadkar and Fianna Fail's Micheál Martin

Second-preference votes are now being counted in Ireland’s general election which has been described by Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald as "something of a revolution in the ballot box".

With all first preferences votes counted, the left-wing republican party has taken 24.5% of the vote, compared to 22% for Fianna Fáil and 21% for Fine Gael.


It is looking likely that there will be a coalition government formed as no party will win enough seats for an outright majority.

Just over 80 seats remain to be filled, but negotiations to establish a government could be ongoing.

On Sunday evening taoiseach (Irish PM) and Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar said it would be "challenging" to form a government.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin did not rule out working with Sinn Féin, but said "significant incompatibilities" still existed.

Ms McDonald, who topped the poll in her four-seat Dublin Central constituency, said: "The frustration people have felt for a long time with the two-party system, whereby Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil handed the baton of power between each other - that's now over," she said.

Fine Gael has been in government since 2011, firstly with the Labour Party and then with independents and since 2016, a confidence-and-supply deal with Fianna Fáil.

It looks set to lose seats for the second election in a row, but could still form a government depending on the final outcome.

Its share of first preference votes dropped from 25.5% at the last election to 20.9%.

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