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General Election confirmed for February 26

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and President Michael D. Higgins signed the formal papers today to dissolve the 31st Dáil and set in motion a campaign leading to a general election. RollingNews.ie photo.

By Ray O’Hanlon

Ireland will vote for a new government on Friday, February 26.

Whether it gets one is anybody’s guess.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny travelled to the Phoenix Park in Dublin today to inform President Michael D. Higgins that he was dissolving the 31st Dáil and was, as the saying goes, “going to the country.”

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It is a country that has been battered in recent years by hard economic times and in recent months by weather that would rate as being hard even by Irish standards.

One, both or more factors could play a part in determining the mood of the electorate during the coming campaign, and on election day itself.

Voting will take place five years and one day after the last general election which took place on February 25, 2011.

That plebiscite resulted in a coalition government between Fine Gael and Labour and this combination is a possibility after the 26th.

But of course there are additional possibilities that will be determined by the actions of other parties, Sinn Féin, Fianna Fáil, and the recently formed Renua party.

And the proportional representation system of voting, if anything, adds to the uncertainty.

Throw in an array of independent candidates and various campaigning groups and the post-election outcome falls into the category of the proverbial toss-up.

Voters will elect 158 TDs (down from the current 166) in forty constituencies (down from 43).
Constituencies vary in size and can be three-seat, four-seat or five-seat affairs.

The eventual membership of the 32nd Dáil will be drawn from over election 500 candidates.

The current government will continue to administer the country over the next few weeks which city, town and countryside will be filled with elections posters – unless of course they are not all blown away by another Atlantic storm.