Irish Exit Polls Show Gov’t Likely Ousted

Irish Exit Polls Show Gov’t Likely OustedIrish Exit Polls Show Gov’t Likely Ousted

The Irish prime minister’s coalition looks set to fall well short of reelection for a second term. An unusual alliance with Fina Gael’s historical rival, Fianna Fail, appears to be the only route to power.

Exit polls from Friday’s general election in the Republic of Ireland showed the government coalition well short of an overall majority, AFP reported.

Vote counting gets underway at 9 a.m. local time (0900 UTC) on Saturday.

An exit poll for the Irish Times showed support for Prime Minister Enda Kenny’s Fine Gael had slumped from 36.1% in the last general election to 26.1%. Its Labor Party coalition partner gathered only 8% support, well below the 19.5% it achieved in the 2011 election.

The two parties’ combined poll of 34%, if confirmed in the count, would fall well short of the 42% that Finance Minister Michael Noonan said would be needed to form a government. Even alliances with independent candidates or smaller parties would probably leave too large a gap to achieve a majority in the parliament.

Kenny may, therefore, be obliged to make an alliance with its historical rival, the Fianna Fail party, which increased its vote to 22.9%. That is a significant rise over the 17% it achieved in 2011.

If the numbers are confirmed in the count, Fianna Fail could reach its target of 40 seats in the parliament. This would represent a major achievement for party leader Micheal Martin.

Overall turnout appears to be about 65%, which is down from 70% in 2011, according to party sources.

After counting starts on Saturday morning, the first results are expected to be announced late afternoon. Counting will continue late into Saturday night and Sunday morning.