While the results of some constituencies are not yet complete, the general shape of the Irish result is known.
Elections Ireland.org compares seats so far to seats at the last election. Out of 153 seats called thus far, it shows the top four parties as follows:
Fianna Fail 18 (-60)
Fine Gael 70 (+19)
Labour 36 (+16)
Sinn Fein 13 (+9)
Independents and others will have 14 seats, up by 8.
As expected, quite a debacle for Fianna Fail. Preliminary results show Fine Gael with 36.1% of the first-preference vote (up 8.8 on 2007), Labour on 19.4% (+9.3). Fianna Fail has fallen to 17.4% (from 41.5%!).
Independents combined for 12.6% (almost double last time). The Greens, who were coalition partners to Fianna Fail in the outgoing government, saw their vote fall from 4.6% to 1.8%, will not win a seat.
At the Political Reform blog, Eoin O’Malley poses the question of whether Labour should join a coalition (as expected) or support a minority Fine Gael cabinet.
A sampling of the argument:
By entering government Labour will stunt its own growth and the potential development of a left-right divide in Irish politics. If it were to stay in opposition it would displace Fianna Fáil as the main opposition party. …
…staying in opposition would protect Labour’s left flank. In going into government Labour will be opposed vigorously by a young, energetic and largely articulate Sinn Féin and ULA.
The Labour leadership will no doubt claim that it does not want to go into government but that the national interest demands it. … But it’s not even that clear that it is in the national interest to enter government.
The Fine Gael and Labour leaders have begun coalition talks.