Sinn Féin party supporters holding the Irish flag, Dublin, Feb. 9. Photo: Ben Stansall/AFP via Getty Images

Ireland's three most popular parties — Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin — each received around 22% of the vote in Saturday's parliamentary elections, according to exit polling reported by AP.

Why it matters: Since no party is projected to win enough seats to govern, someone will likely have to form a coalition.

  • Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have criticized Sinn Féin's ability to lead because of its links to the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA), a nationalist paramilitary organization that sought freedom from British rule in Northern Ireland through violence from 1968 to 1998, a period known as "The Troubles."
  • Sinn Féin is a powerful force in Northern Ireland, but it has historically been a minor player in the Irish Republic — until this year, when its left-wing policies helped attract young and urban voters.

What they're saying: Fianna Fáil’s leader, Micheál Martin, said Sinn Féin was not fit to govern because “they have not cleansed themselves of their bloody past," according to AP.

  • Mary Lou McDonald, leader of Sinn Féin, condemned the IRA's actions as “barbaric.”

The big picture, via Axios' Dave Lawler: Ireland's economy has boomed as the country has opened its arms to global giants like Google, but inequality has grown and housing has become more scarce.

  • Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, a centrist who won international praise for his adept handling of Brexit negotiations and debates on sensitive social issues, is in danger of losing his job.

Methodology: The exit poll was based on 5,376 interviews conducted immediately after people voted at 250 polling stations. It has a margin of error of ± 1 percentage point.

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