Turnout in Ireland general election estimated at 70%


The polls have closed in the Republic of Ireland’s general election.

Turnout is believed to be close to 70%. There are 566 candidates contesting 165 seats in the Irish parliament.

The ballot was called a few months after the ruling coalition negotiated an 85bn-euro (£72bn) EU/IMF loan package. Divisions had emerged in the ruling coalition between Fianna Fail and the Green Party.

The first results are expected early on Saturday afternoon.

The turnout in this election is believed to have been significantly higher than the 62% that voted in the 2007 general election.

Large numbers of voters in urban and rural areas turned out since polling stations opened at 0700 GMT on Friday.

Voting in one polling station in Salthill in Galway city was disrupted briefly when part of the floor in the assembly hall of St Enda’s National school began to buckle.

EU/IMF bail-out

The polling booths were moved into individual classrooms, and voting continued.

It is the first general election since the country was bailed out by the European Union and the IMF in November.

There are 566 candidates fighting in 43 constituencies for 165 seats in the Irish parliament, Dail Eireann.

The speaker of the Irish parliament (Ceann Comhairle) is automatically returned.

While a record 233 independents, including those in smaller parties, are standing, only 85 female candidates (15% of those contesting the election) are seeking seats in the 31st Dail.

The Irish use the system of proportional representation to elect members of parliament rather than the first-past-the-post method.

Ballot boxes from the 6,000 or so polling stations will be stored securely overnight.

Two days

The counting of votes will get under way at 0900 GMT on Saturday in 35 count centres and trends should become clear in the early afternoon before declarations are formally made.

It will take two days to count the votes but all the indications are that Fianna Fail who have have been power for the past 14 years will be heavily defeated .

Every opinion poll in the run-up to the election suggested the new government would be led by the main opposition party, Fine Gael.

And the party is confident of victory.

Their leader, Enda Kenny, has said that if he becomes the next Irish prime minister, he will try to re-negotiate the terms of Ireland’s international bail-out.

He has also said he would welcome a first visit to the Republic of Ireland by the Queen.

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