Fianna Fail, Ireland’s main opposition party won the most seats in the country’s 160 seat parliament after vote counting concluded on Monday following Saturday's General Election.
The final tally showed that Fianna Fail had secured 38 seats to Sinn Fein’s 37.
Experts are predicting that the formation of a government could be a long and complicated one.
Both Fianna Fail and the Fine Gael party, said during the campaign that they would not govern with Sinn Fein, a left-wing party that was once the political wing of the Irish Republican Army (IRA).
No party got the 80 seats needed for a majority in parliament which makes some form of coalition inevitable.
Talks on forming an administration are expected to get underway among the three main parties and smaller groups. They include including the Greens, the Social Democrats and Labour.
Dr. Muiris MacCarthaigh is a Senior lecturer in politics and public administration at Queen’s University Belfast.
With all parties exploring their options in a bid to form a government, the Queen’s lecturer commented that although its understood Sinn Fein is talking to other parties in a bid to form some sort of minority government, “it might be possible for Fianna Fail to pull together a coalition with the Labour party; the Green party have had a very good election.”
He pointed out that all the smaller parties together could, along with Fianna Fail, form a minority government “because Sinn Fein and Fine Gael are very opposed to forming any sort of coalition and so they wouldn’t out vote that sort of a government. So it’s still a little bit complicated as to who the major party is going to be in government necessarily", he said.
Following decades of dominance by both Fianna Fail and Fine Gael, this election became a three horse race. Dr. MacCarthaigh noted that what is emerging now is a more European style system. “This election makes Irish politics look like you have a dominant block on the left, Sinn Fein and a large block on the right so Fianna Fail and Fine Gael, so more like traditional European systems… so it’s mold breaking in many respects.”
Talks to form the last Irish government in 2016 lasted 10 weeks.