Irish PM set for poll win
Exit polls give Bertie Ahern, the prime minister, a third-term in office.
Last Modified: 26 May 2007 04:18 GMT
Ahern is Ireland's second-longest
serving leader [AFP]
Bertie Ahern is on course to win a third-term as Irish prime minister after exit polls from yesterday’s parliamentary elections gave his Fianna Fail party 41.6 per cent of the vote.

However it appeared on Friday that in order to extend his ten-year premiership he would have to seek coalition partners.
Enda Kenny, the leader of the main opposition Fine Gael party, was refusing to concede defeat but an exit poll for the national broadcaster RTE estimated his share of the vote at 26.3 per cent, with Ahern's would-be coalition partners Labour trailing on 9.9 per cent.

Due to Ireland's complicated electoral system, the full make-up of the 166-seat Dail [lower chamber of parliament] may not become clear for some days.

Failed strategy

Kenny and Labour leader Pat Rabbitte had hoped to topple Ahern by forging a joint platform and appealing to supporters to vote for both parties' candidates.

But Rabbitte conceded that the strategy had failed, particularly for his own party, which looked likely to lose some of its 21 seats.

Ahern is already the second-longest serving Irish prime minister behind his party’s founder Eamon de Valera who won seven elections from 1932 to 1957.

Under Ahern’s stewardship the Irish economy has grown strongly and peace has come to Norhtern Ireland and seen the introduction of a power-sharing government in the province.
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