Goodbody Stockbrokers today warned that the results of the Irish general election, complete late last night, confirm the newly fractured nature of Irish politics and leave the question wide open as to how the next government will be formed.
Goodbody say the result is even worse than expected 24 hours ago for the two large parties. Fine Gael ended with 35 seats (down from 47) and Fianna Fáil with 38 (down from 46).
Sinn Féin got the largest number of first preference votes and the second highest number of seats at 37 (up from 22). With 80 seats needed to form a government, Goodbody say a glance at these results confirms how difficult the process of government formation will be over the coming weeks.
It appears that Sinn Fein has set the early running on this one, with Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald already in discussions with other parties and independents. Its hope is to form a government of the left, but it is unlikely to have the numbers to do so and given the diversity of the group, it would be highly unstable.
According to Goodbody, "It still appears that two of the thee large parties will be required to form a government, but at this stage it is impossible to tell what sort of combination it will be. Fine Gael appear to have stepped back for the time being, while different opinions are coming from the ranks of Fianna Fáil, from going into opposition to opening the door to talks between Sinn Féin or Fine Gael. We are a long way from getting clarity on the make-up of the next government in Ireland."