Taoiseach Enda Kenny is likely to be still the head of government for the centenary anniversary of the Easter Rising.
With voters spreading their favors across a multiplicity of parties and Independents, and inflicting heavy defeats on the outgoing coalition of Fine Gael and Labour, Kenny is expected to be caretaker taoiseach for the centenary celebrations.
A new government is not expected to be formed before Easter weekend on March 27-28.
Outgoing ministers – even those who lost seats in Friday’s general election – will continue in office while negotiations take place to form a new government following last Friday’s general election results. They will also represent Ireland worldwide at St. Patrick’s Day parades across the globe.
The Dail will reassemble on March 10 when the leading parties, Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein are expected to nominate their leaders for taoiseach.
When, as expected, there will be no agreement the Dail is likely to be suspended for another three weeks to allow further negotiations to prevent another general election.
Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin has taken the first initiative since the inconclusive election result by making a pitch for major political reform before the new Dail meets next week.
Martin, the most successful leader in the election with his party more than doubling its number of seats, issued a statement that the next business – even ahead of talks about talks around the next government – must center on Dail reform.
Essentially, what he proposes is to give the Dail stronger powers with the government answerable to it. He wants a substantial shift of power from ministers to ordinary TDs in the new Dail.
Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern said he does not believe a new government can be formed before Easter. He said it would be extremely difficult for Fianna Fail and Fine Gael, the two largest parties, to create a coalition
Neither of the big party leaders has yet been in touch with each other about talks.
Kenny was chairing a Cabinet meeting of the outgoing government on Tuesday and, separately, also had a meeting with his Fine Gael ministerial colleagues in an attempt to agree an approach to the impasse caused by the election outcome.
With Sinn Fein categorically refusing to join either Fianna Fail or Fine Gael in a ruling partnership, the two big parties were left with a variety of smaller parties and independents right across the political spectrum from far left to far right to form a government. Political commentators reckoned such a rainbow coalition is very unlikely.
Long-serving members of Fianna Fail commented that they would not go into partnership with Fine Gael, but a significant number of Fianna Fail first-time TDs said they would be open to supporting a minority Fine Gael government in order to avoid another election.
The idea of a rotating taoiseach has not been ruled out by some commentators.
A Fine Gael/Fianna Fail government was still hot favorite with the bookies at 1-2 odds. Second favorite was a Fine Gael minority government at nearly 2-1.
In a voter turnout of 65.2 per cent, and with six seats still to be filled on Tuesday afternoon under Ireland’s complicated proportional representation system, the latest result read Fine Gael 49, Fianna Fail 44, Sinn Fein 22, Labour 6, anti-austerity 5, Renua 0, Social Democrats 3, Green Party 2, Independent Alliance 5, independents 16.
Among those who lost their seats are Alan Shatter, former Fine Gael minister for Justice, and the current Diaspora Minister Jimmy Deenihan.