The Sinn Fein party, a former political arm of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) paramilitary group, became the second force in the Irish Parliament.
This result, revealed Monday after two days of counting votes, could represent the fall of Prime Minister Leo Varadkar.
Sinn Fein now has 37 seats out of 160 in the lower house of the Irish Parliament (Dail). Center-right Fianna Fail occupies another seat (38), while Fine Gael, center-right party of outgoing Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, has 35.
Although the centrists have one more seat, Sinn Fein was the most voted party in the elections, getting 24.5% of the vote. Fianna Fail won 22.2%, Fine Gael 20.9%, the Green Party 7.1% and the Labor Party 4.4%.
A majority of at least 80 deputies is needed for stable governance, which makes negotiations between different political parties inevitable.
To achieve this majority, he stresses the Renaissance, a coalition between two of the three largest parties will be necessary, with the support of other movements. During the election campaign, the leaders of Fine Gael and Fianna Fail assured their voters that they would not form a governmental coalition with Sinn Féin.
In 2016, Fine Gael was the most voted party, but without an absolute majority, and needed a commitment of support from rival Fianna Fáil to form a minority government, which was only achieved after 70 days of negotiation. "Sinn Fein won the election, we won the popular vote," said party leader Mary Lou McDonald.
Complex electoral system
In the complex Irish electoral system, voters do not vote for an established list, but for their own when choosing candidates from different parties in order of preference. McDonald has already initiated contacts with other minority formations, such as green or labor, and with independent and left-wing deputies to try to form a government, as no party has achieved an absolute majority.
“This campaign was about change. People voted for Sinn Fein to be in the government, to make a difference and keep promises, ”explained McDonald in an interview with state television RTE. McDonald insisted that he wants a progressive government and, while not ruling out a coalition with Democrats or Centrist, he reiterated that he prefers to govern without the support of Fine Gael and Fianna Fail.
In the electoral program, Sinn Fein argues that the Irish government should promote a process of discussion and persuasion to organize "a referendum, in the north and south, on Irish Unity". The British Government has argued that there are no conditions for this public consultation, which is foreseen in the 1998 peace agreements for Northern Ireland, and the other two main Irish parties, Fianna Fail and Fine Gael, do not consider reunification a priority.
Participation in a coalition government in Ireland by Sinn Fein, which is also part of the government of Northern Ireland, can give a new impetus to the nationalist movement and create a conflict with the British government similar to what exists in Scotland, where the regional government defends the right to hold a referendum for independence