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.