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Republic of Ireland's new era as hung Dail predicted

By Brian Hutton

Published 27/02/2016

TaoiseachEnda Kenny meets a voter at a polling station at St Anthony’s School in Castlebar, Co Mayo, yesterday as the Republic went to the polls in one of the most unpredictable elections in recent times
TaoiseachEnda Kenny meets a voter at a polling station at St Anthony’s School in Castlebar, Co Mayo, yesterday as the Republic went to the polls in one of the most unpredictable elections in recent times
Sister Anastasia of the Franciscan Order casts her vote at Knock National school

A hung parliament is widely predicted after voters went to the polls in the Republic.

Such is the voter schism it threatens to blow apart a duopoly enjoyed for more than 80 years by the currently ruling Fine Gael party and the main opposition party Fianna Fail.

Bitter rivals since Ireland's Civil War - despite little difference in their conservative policies - the parties who swapped power for generations may be forced into a historic "grand coalition".

The tectonic shift could also open a definitive right/left divide in the Dail for the first time since the foundation of the Irish State.

Opinion polls show little chance of the Fine Gael/Labour coalition being returned to power on its own.

Other possibilities include a minority Fine Gael Government, supported by arch-enemies Fianna Fail, or a rainbow coalition of Fine Gael, Labour and some smaller parties.

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