Record seat hauls for FG, Labour, and Sinn Fein as FF collapse
Many smaller European countries manage to count their votes in four hours or less, but Ireland isnâ€™t one of them. However, the marathon vote count in this historic election is finally drawing to a close, but with 16 Dail seats remaining to be filled, and four constituencies still counting (Laois-Offaly, Wicklow, and recounts in both Galway seats).
Fine Gael are expected to finish in the mid-seventies for seats, Labour on about 36, with FF possibly reaching 20, while Sinn Fein are expected to make 14, with Independents and Others having already reached 17. The Greens meanwhile have paid the price for their involvement in the outgoing government and have lost all of their seats in the Dail.
On the percentage vote shares, FG have secured 36% (up 9), Labour are on 19 (up 9), FF are on 17 (down a massive 24), Sinn Fein are on 10 (up 3), while Independents/Others have scored 13 (up 7). In terms of a fall in a partyâ€™s vote share, FF are almost on a par with the Canadian Conservatives in 1993, and well ahead of Japanâ€™s LDP in 2009. Itâ€™s a moot point as to whether they can survive as a force in Irish politics, although my guess is that they probably will.
It now seems to be the general expectation that the new administration will consist of Fine Gael and Labour in order to form a stable government (and indeed Paddy Power paid out on this yesterday!), with talks maybe starting tonight. This does give Fianna Fail an opportunity in the sense that they are the largest opposition party â€“ but Sinn Fein are now snapping strongly at their heels.
Finally, special thanks to Richard Nabavi for his two excellent articles on Ireland during the campaign.