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Irish election: Fianna Fail expected to derail Fine Gael coalition

By Marilyn Malara   |   Feb. 27, 2016 at 2:55 PM

DUBLIN, Ireland, Feb. 27 (UPI) -- The main opposition in Ireland's parliamentary elections is making strides against the ruling Fine Gael-Labour coalition, early voting results indicate.

The Fianna Fail party is expected to earn 21.1 percent of Friday's vote, which is just below Fine Gael's predicted 24.8 percent lead, Irish broadcasting network RTE's exit poll shows.

The latter party's alliance with the Labour Party previously harbored a majority within the parliament. But with Labour's expected polls at seven percent, the coalition will not be able to maintain the pre-existing influence.

The two most popular parties as of Saturday, Fine Gael and Fianna Fail have long been at odds. Although neither having a majority in the Dail, they previously vowed not to form a coalition. The long-opposing parties first emerged almost a century ago at the close of Ireland's civil war in 1923.

Reports suspect pressure will move the parties to come to somewhat of an agreement in the coming weeks following Friday's election.

The Irish Times' exit poll shows a third of the country's eligible voters favored smaller parties and independents. As of press time, Fianna Fail trailed Fine Gael 26 percent to 26.5 percent in the poll.

Independent candidate Shane Ross was the first elected to the Dail, BBC reports. Sinn Fein candidate Eoin O Broin became the first from his party to be elected soon after.

Fine Gael's outgoing justice minister Frances Fitzgerald was elected in the same region as O Broin, Dublin Mid-West.

"A lot will depend on the destination of the last seats in many constituencies," Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin said, BBC reported. "It's a bit too early to be definitive, but it's clear we're going to have a good day."

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