Sinn Féin, formerly linked to IRA, virtually ties for first in Irish elections
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.