By Irish Echo Staff
Michael D. Higgins looked set today to become Ireland's ninth president. According to early estimates by observers at count centers on Friday, Higgins was ahead of his six rivals with about 40 percent of the vote after Thursday's election.
If his lead holds, the Labour Party candidate will succeed President Mary McAleese who has served two seven-year terms. The new president will be inaugurated on Nov. 11.
If Higgins comes out a confirmed winner it will be something of a comeback for the 70-year-old who was trailing in late opinion polls to independent candidate Sean Gallagher.
Gallagher, however, lost support in the final days of a tumultuous campaign days after his status as an independent became more clouded as his ties to Fianna Fáil were increasingly highlighted by rival candidates and in the press.