A worried Enda Kenny as Irish election exit polls show big fall off for Fine Gael and Labour.RollingNews.ie

Fine Gael have suffered a major setback polling only 26 per cent according to an exit poll carried out by the Irish Times in the Irish election held on Friday the 26th.

In the last election they were at 36 per cent. Trends show that about 66 per cent of the populace voted, down four per cent from 2011.

Their coalition partners, the Labour Party, slumped to 7 per cent from 19 per cent last time dealing a double blow to the government.

The Fianna Fail party are the big winners with 23 per cent up from 17 per cent in the 2011 election, according to the exit poll.

Sinn Fein are at 15 per cent, up from 10 per cent in the 2011 election and replacing Labour as the third largest party in the Irish Republic for the first time.

Independents, who span various small parties such as the Greens, Renua and single issue candidates make up the remaining 33 per cent or so.

If the poll is correct, Ireland faces an uncertain political future. With the Dail called back into session on March 10 it may be impossible to form a government right away in which case a Fine Gael minority caretaker government, if it has the greatest number of seats, would likely rule for a period.

However it seems certain that a second election will take place sometime in 2016 to clarify the next government of Ireland.

The result comes as a sharp blow to the government who believed their work combating Ireland’s financial woes with their austerity prescriptions would pay off.

However little seemed to go right as the government failed to run the type of campaign they did in 2011 full of ideas and plans to deal with the crisis.

In the end it may resemble the worldwide frustration witnessed in the US among Trump supporters and bias against existing parties and established leaders such as what happened with the Labour Party in Britain.

An uncertain future certainly lies ahead if the exit poll results stand.

The Irish Times' Stephen Collins and Fiach Kelly discuss the poll results.

Posted by The Irish Times on Friday, February 26, 2016