Irish Republican News · May 25, 2007
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: Ahern likely to return as Taoiseach
Ahern likely to return as Taoiseach

In unofficial tallies in Thursday's 26 County General Election, the vote for Bertie Ahern's Fianna Fail appears to be up and, while it is early days in the election count, the party looks likely to form part of the next government in Dublin.

The large turnout seen yesterday, reportedly over 65%, appears to have favoured the large mainstream parties.

Pundits have predicted up to 80 seats for Fianna Fail, a small increase but short of an overall majority -- even with the support of traditional allies, the Progressive Democrats.

Fine Gael is set to make gains, according to tallies from around the 26 Counties, but not enough to see party leader Enda Kenny leading a government. Fifty seats have been suggested for the party, a possible gain of 18 seats.

The Progressive Democrats look to be in serious trouble, with party leader Michael McDowell in danger of being ousted in Dublin South-East, and the party as a whole looking to hold just two or three seats.

Labour and the Greens - may also have been squeezed in many constituencies. Labour could end up losing seats and is unlikely to be able to form an alternative coalition with Fine Gael, even with the support of the Green Party. The Greens are said to have made few, if any, gains in the tallies, but are likely to gain from transfers late in the day.

While unofficial tallies of the Sinn Fein vote also do not indicate that the party has made a significant breakthrough, there have been signs that these indicators are unreliable. This was borne out in the first count from Dublin Mid-West, where Sinn Fein's Joanne Spain polled strongly at 9.3% -- up by 2.6% -- and is in the contest for the last seat.

The Deputy Leader of the Progressive Democrats, Mary Harney is in trouble in the same constituency, where the first seat has already gone to Fianna Fail's John Curran.

An exit poll releaseed this morning poll also has provided a measure of the party support levels from yesterday. These are Fianna Fail - 41.6%; Fine Gael - 26.3%; Labour - 9.9%; Sinn Fein - 7.3%; Greens - 4.8%; PD - 2.6%; Independent 7.5%. The margin of error is 2.5%.

The exit poll was accurate to within around 1 per cent in 2002, overestimating Fianna Fail and underestimating Fine Gael.

With only one result in so far, bookmaker Paddy Power is already paying out to those who bet on Bertie Ahern leading his party into Government for an historic third term as Taoiseach.

Further updates as more results come in.

© 2007 Irish Republican News