Irish election: Fianna Fáil government routed, according to exit poll

February 28, 2011

By Henry McDonald, The Guardian

Ireland’s most dominant political party, Fianna Fáil, is on the road to a historic and devastating defeat in the republic’s general election.

Just months after accepting an EU/IMF bailout, the government is likely to finish in fourth place behind a resurgent Labour party and a slew of independent candidates.

The scale of Fianna Fáil’s losses is so great that a number of high-profile ministers, including finance minister Brian Lenihan, who negotiated the bailout, are in danger of losing their seats. His outgoing ministerial colleague Mary Hanafin also faces the possibility of being unseated in her Dún Laoghaire/Rathdown constituency.

Fine Gael is now poised to form a government, possibly even as a single party, its director of elections, Phil Hogan, told RTÉ Radio. “Anybody that writes [us] off so early in the day… I think they’ll probably get a fright as the day wears on,” he said. If the party fails to win an overall majority, however – which an exit poll from RTÉ suggested would be the outcome earlier in the day – it is likely to seek to form a coalition with the Irish Labour Party. Either way, Enda Kenny is certain to be elected Taoiseach.

According to RTÉ, Fine Gael took 36.1% of the vote, with Labour coming second with 20.5%. Fianna Fáil support is put at just 15.1%, by far its worst general election result, and will mean a massive loss of seats across the country – including a wipeout in the capital.

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