THE final seats have been filled in the Irish general election but there is still no clarity on how or when the Government will be formed.
All 158 seats in the Dáil were filled over a six-day count, with Fine Gael taking the narrow majority over rivals Fianna Fáil.
Between the two parties, 94 of the 158 seats are taken – Fine Gael on 50, while Fianna Fáil hold 44.
Sinn Féin hold the third largest number of seats on 23.
The Joan Burton-led Labour Party, which sat in the last coalition with Fine Gael, gained just six seats in Ireland’s 32nd Dáil, while the remaining seats are held by independents and smaller parties.
The election turnout was 65 per cent but despite the six-day count coming to a close, there is no clear steer on what shape the Government will take.
Negotiations are expected to get underway next week to attempt to reach a resolve and form a coalition.
Here’s a breakdown of the election and what might be in store…
Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are close rivals now that the seats have been filled. If the parties choose to enter a coalition, this would be the first time these parties would sit in Government together in the almost 100-year history of the Dáil.
What is going on now?
For the moment, Enda Kenny’s Fine-Gael/Labour coalition Government are sitting in something of a caretaker role – so that a Government is in place until the newly elected TDs sit and decide what to do next.
The new TDs are scheduled to sit together in the Dáil for the first time next Thursday, March 10.
Neither Fine Gael of Fianna Fáil have enough seats in the Dáil to win a vote to elect a Taoiseach from their party – they will rely on the support of the independents and the smaller parties to reach a majority.
What can happen?
There are several possibilities as to what will happen in the Irish Government next. If Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael enter a power-sharing agreement, it will be the first time those parties will have done so.
If no Taoiseach can be agreed upon, Fine Gael have supported the idea of introducing a “rotating Taoiseach” system – where a member of each party would lead the Government for a set period of time.
Many commentators also predict a second election later in the year because of the inconclusive results that emerged.
What do the bookies think will happen?
Irish bookmaker Paddy Power favours a Fine Gael minority government – which would see Fine Gael as the main party, despite having less than half of the seats.
The odds of having a second election are almost even – with ‘no’ coming out as favourite at 4/7 and ‘yes’ trailing just behind on 5/4.
Current Taoiseach Enda Kenny is also the odds-on favourite to keep the country’s top office on odds of 1/4 with Boylesports.