Electoral bloodbath for Irish politics

  • 28/02/2016
Ireland's Prime Minister Enda Kenny
Ireland's Prime Minister Enda Kenny

Ireland's mainstream political leaders are reeling after an electoral bloodbath plunged support for establishment parties to a near record low.

With prospects for a new coalition government in deep disarray, weeks of protracted negotiations are on the cards after Taoiseach Enda Kenny ruled out resigning or re-running the poll.

His Fine Gael party suffered a hammer blow, losing in the region of 30 seats, while its Labour Party partner was humiliated by the prospect of retaining fewer than 10 seats.

The fracturing of the Republic's traditional centre-right politics suggested widespread disaffection with the once dominant forces and austerity - a mirror of the voter schism which has crippled parliaments in Spain, Portugal and Greece.

Many final results of the election will not be known until Sunday or Monday (local time).

But predictions point to a remarkable electoral swing where the political powerhouses of Fianna Fail and Fine Gael will struggle to secure support of 50 percent of popular support for the first time in history.

Kenny said his party would remain a large bloc in the new Dail parliament despite throwing away the largest majority it had ever secured.

"I'd like to think that it could be possible, given the final results, to be able to put a government together that could work through the many challenges we have," he said.

Kenny claimed his job as the outgoing Taoiseach was to ensure a stable government.

The clearest majority would come from Fine Gael and Fianna Fail setting aside their historical rivalries, borne out of the civil war and cemented over the last 90 years.