Politics, World, Europe

Sinn Fein leads Ireland election as counting continues

Sinn Fein leader likely to become next taoiseach, Irish prime minister, leading left-wing government

Ahmet Gürhan Kartal   | 10.02.2020
Sinn Fein leads Ireland election as counting continues

DUBLIN

As nearly half of the 160 seats are filled in Dail, the Irish parliament, Sinn Fein has won 29 of them, as counting of the votes is still underway on Monday.

Promising change in their election campaign, Sinn Fein is marching towards a victory over Ireland’s two traditional parties, Fina Gael and Fianna Fail. 

Prime Minister Leo Varadkar’s Fine Gael has won 14 seats so far, while Micheal Martin’s Fianna Fail has claimed 16.

Sinn Fein is leading with 24.5%, leaving behind two traditionally big parties.

Party leader Mary Lou McDonald described the election victory as a “revolution”.

“This is no longer a two-party system,” she said.

She said she would try to form a ruling coalition with other parties.

McDonald said she wants to attempt to become the next taoiseach, Irish prime minister, leading a left-wing government with the Green Party, Social Democrats and Solidarity-People Before Profit party.

Varadkar ruled out any coalition talks with Sinn Fein, warning about a “forced marriage.”

Martin, on the other hand, made a U-turn after election results have become clearer and said he could hold coalition talks with Sinn Fein.

McDonald's election victory came with years of failed policies to improve housing conditions and health services by the previous governments.

Ireland faces a housing crisis as the number of homeless has hit 10,000.

Healthcare also faces serious challenges as patients can wait as long as 17 hours to be examined in hospital emergency rooms.

The turnout for Saturday’s election is expected to be between 60% and 65% despite Storm Ciara, which is affecting life adversely.

The results so far are close to the exit poll which predicted all three parties would have around 22% of first preference votes.

Sinn Fein, the political wing of the dissolved Irish Republican Army (IRA), has been campaigning for a unified Ireland.

The IRA had run a bombing and assassination campaign for decades before a peace deal was reached in 1998.

The period known as the Troubles was a three-decade span of sectarian violence between Catholic Irish nationalists and Protestant U.K. loyalists which left more than 3,500 people dead.

The 1998 Belfast Agreement -- a peace deal dubbed the Good Friday Agreement -- largely saw the end of Troubles-era violence, but IRA splinter groups remain active in Northern Ireland.


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