The Irish general election on 8 February resulted in a near three-way tie between Sinn Féin, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. Sinn Féin, long considered a secondary political party, surged at the polls --threatening the two-party system Ireland has functioned under for the last century.
Sinn Féin, representing left-wing values and promoting the reunification of Ireland, declared victory after winning the popular vote. However, with no party holding enough seats for a house majority, the results have produced a hung parliament.
Sinn Féin, led by Mary Lou McDonald, finished the election with 37 seats, closely behind Micheál Martin with the conservative party Fianna Fáil’s 38. According to The Guardian, the two parties are considered tied since Fianna Fáil’s speaker was “re-elected without contest,” guaranteeing one seat. Fine Gael, the liberal-conservative party led by the current taoiseach (Irish prime minister), Leo Varadkar, finished third with 35 seats.
According to the BBC, “The tight electoral numbers means that negotiations to establish a government could be prolonged.” In order for a new taoiseach to be elected, a party must hold a seat majority - at least 80 of the total 160 seats. Since none of the three leading parties are close to a majority, a new solution must be reached.
Varadkar, who called for the re-election to secure a larger voter turnout, will likely be replaced as Taoiseach. Following Fine Gael's second-worst election result in history, Varadkar has also faced calls to step down as party leader.
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Irish General Election Results