Ireland looks likely to return a hung Dail after all three of the nation’s leading parties appeared to return the same vote share in a snap exit poll.
Irish elections work under a proportional representation system with a single transferrable vote, meaning second choices will need to be considered before a complete tally is given.
Among the lesser parties competing Labour’s results fell to 5 per cent, while the Green party drew in 8 per cent of first choice votes suggesting a significant growth on its previous election results – according to the Ipsos MRBI poll.
The result, described as a “statistical tie” by pollsters, leaves a coalition government almost inevitable for the country which has been led by Leo Varadkar’s minority Fine Gael party since 2016.
However both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have previously ruled out a coalition with Sinn Fein – who only campaigned in 42 seats when eighty is required for a majority.
The levelling of the field shows an improvement in the prospects for Sinn Fein – who pulled in 13.8 per cent of the vote in the 2016 election to Fine Gael’s 25 per cent and Fianna Fáil’s 24 per cent.
The party, led by Mary Lou McDonald following the end of Gerry Adams’ time at the head of the movement, was able to draw in a substantial amount of the youth vote according to the poll.
Figures suggest 31 per cent of 18- to 24-year-olds voted for the party, with the next-highest beneficiary Fine Gael falling far behind at 15 per cent.
However, their vote share was much lower among older voters – with 12 per cent backing the party compared to 30 per cent in favour of both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.
Additional reporting by agencies