Feb. 8 (UPI) -- Exit polls forecast an unprecedented three-way tie -- and high likelihood Sinn Féin will join the next government -- as voting wrapped in Ireland's general election Saturday.
The Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI exit poll showed nationalists Sinn Féin winning 22.3 percent of the vote, Fianna Fáil winning 22.2 percent and the Fine Gael winning 22.4 percent.
The remainder of the votes went to the Green Party (7.9 percent), Labour (4.6 percent), the Social Democrats (3.4 percent), Solidarity-People Before Profit (2.8 percent) and independents/others (14.5 percent).
The poll surveyed 5,376 respondents who had just voted at 250 locations across Ireland Saturday.
According to the Irish Times, the poll has a margin of 1.3 percent.
Another Ipsos MRBI poll published this week showed stronger support for Sinn Féin, which led with 25 percent, followed by Fianna Fáil at 23 percent and Fine Gael at 20 percent.
If the latest figures hold once votes are counted, the outcome of the election will depend entirely on the parties' ability to turn their share of the vote into seats in the Dail Éireann -- the lower house of the Irish parliament.
Party leaders will likely be forced to negotiate coalitions, though they seemed reluctant to do so as the election got underway.
During the election Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin ruled out coalition with either Fine Gael or Sinn Féin, while Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar has said he will not enter government with Sinn Féin, but could be open to a deal with Fianna Fáil.
During the Troubles Sinn Féin was shunned by voters as the Irish Republican wing, but has tapped voter frustration at surging rents, hospital bed shortages and insurance costs.
Officials will begin counting votes Sunday and full results are expected Monday or Tuesday.