Mary Lou McDonald celebrates at the vote count at the RDS in Dublin. RollingNews.ie photo.
By Anthony Neeson
Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald is contacting party leaders from the left after her party's stunning result in Saturday’s general election.
Sinn Féin received the highest percentage of the vote at 24.5 percent and topped the poll in 30 of the 39 constituencies. Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael took 22 percent and 21 percent of the vote respectively, with Fianna Fáil expected to be ultimately returned with the most seats as counting continues.
The result has not only shocked the political establishment, but has surprised Sinn Féin itself. The party only put forward 42 candidates and is on course to have 37 TDs ultimately elected.
Young people flocked to the Sinn Féin message, with housing, homelessness, rents and the health service among the main reasons for voters switching to the republican party, who had a disastrous local government election little over eight months ago.
Mary Lou McDonald has been contacting the leaders of the Greens, Labour, Social Democrats and Solidarity-People Before Profit, as the final seats were still being decided.
While both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil was adamant during the election campaign that they would not share power with Sinn Féin, Fianna Fáil have opened the door slightly on a possible future coalition.
“I’m a democrat,” Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said. “I listen to the people, I respect the decision of the people.”
Leo Varadkar has insisted that going into coalition with Sinn Féin “is not an option” for his Fine Gael party.
On Sunday, both Micheál Martin and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar were kept waiting before they were eventually elected. Both trailed in second place behind high polling Sinn Féin candidates.
However, with the old two-party system now gone the formation of a new government will be protracted and lengthy – if possible at all.
Another election could follow any talks deadlock.
A delighted Sinn Féin President topped the poll in Dublin Central.
“The frustration people have felt for a long time with the two-party system, whereby Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil handed the baton of power between each other – that’s now over,” said Mary Lou McDonald.
“This vote for Sinn Féin is for Sinn Féin to be in government, for Sinn Féin to deliver.
“My first job of work, and I commenced this yesterday, it to establish with other parties whether or not there are the numbers to deliver a government without Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael.”