Sinn Féin lead but no outright majority in Irish general election
Sinn Féin have received 24.5 per cent of first preference votes, the largest number of any party, in the Irish general election.
While no party has enough votes for an outright majority, the popularity of Sinn Féin has been referred to as "something of a revolution in the ballot box" by the party’s president Mary Lou McDonald.
Both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, who have 22.2 per cent and 20.9 per cent of the vote respectively, have ruled out a coalition with Sinn Féin, which they attribute to tax policies and the party’s IRA past.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has stated that forming a government would be "challenging", while Micheál Martin, leader of Fianna Fáil believes there are "significant incompatibilities" between the parties.
Varadkar continued "We don't believe a coalition between Sinn Féin and Fine Gael is a viable option.”
He concluded that a "forced marriage would not result in a good government."
Sinn Féin nominated 42 candidates for 39 multi-seat constituencies, half of those put forward by Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil. The 160 seat Dáil requires 80 seats for a majority.
Polling closed at ten o’clock on Saturday evening and votes were counted from nine o’clock on Sunday morning.
When the final number of seats is known, party leaders will explore options to allow for the formation of a coalition government.
In spite of the comments made by the leaders of both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, the leader of Sinn Féin said she is exploring the possibility of forming a government with either party.
She noted "The frustration people have felt for a long time with the two-party system, whereby Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil handed the baton of power between each other - that's now over.
"We now have a very substantial mandate."
The newly elected TDs will meet on 20 February.