This Wednesday the Dail will meet again and may make a fourth attempt to elect a taoiseach. So by the time you read this Ireland could have a new government.
Or maybe not. In fact the betting is that nothing much will happen this week. and that eight weeks after the election we will still be left in limbo with the country being run by the "acting government."
This is by no means a crisis, but it's not good for the country because it means that the outgoing government is just keeping things ticking over. No big decisions can be taken because there is no mandate to do so. And so the big problems we face, particularly on issues like housing, are being allowed to drift.
The talking could go on for another week or two as the various parties and independents try to sort out the electoral mess -- or try to avoid getting involved and having to take difficult decisions. It's much easier to sit on the fence and a lot safer since there may well be another election in the near future.
At least we know at this stage that Fianna Fail have ruled themselves out of joining the next government because they said so last week when Micheal Martin again was defeated in the vote for taoiseach. Their agenda is now pretty clear: stay in opposition, avoid responsibility for tough decisions, and then come back after the next election (which can't be far away) as the biggest party. It's cynical and self-serving but, hey, it's Fianna Fail!
So a minority government led by Fine Gael and supported by some independents and possibly some of the smaller parties seems to be the only option. It's either that or another election immediately, which no one wants so quickly after the last one, not least because it could result in a similar stalemate.
A minority Fine Gael-led government could work, but only if Fianna Fail undertakes to support the government on important issues in Dail votes. Some of the independents want Fianna Fail and Fine Gael to have a written agreement between them setting out the details of such an arrangement, giving some degree of certainty that the next government will last at least for a couple of years. But Fianna Fail, at the time of writing, is unwilling to go that far and wants to negotiate with the next government on each issue as it arises.
That will be extremely difficult on some issues, like water charges for example, where the two are diametrically opposed. Fianna Fail is stuck with the populist position it took before the election to avoid losing votes to Sinn Fein and the loony left, even though they know that water charging is inevitable. But it's not impossible and fudged solutions could be worked out, even on water.
Staying out of government leaves Fianna Fail in the position of being able to dump the administration at any time and force an election. If they don't get what they want on water charges, for example, they can then run to the electorate as the defenders of the people and hoover up votes.
To make a minority government workable, Fine Gael needs around 10 votes in the Dail in addition to their own 50. They got two extra from independents last week, but that still leaves some way to go.
The Labour Party could join in but probably won't. The smaller parties, mainly far left, don't want to know. Which leaves the motley crew of independents, with whom Fine Gael has been negotiating now for weeks.
In public the independents sound very high-minded, talking about wanting to provide stable government for the good of the country and insisting that they are only discussing national issues.
Behind the scenes, however, it's pork barrel politics, to use the American phrase. In other words, it's about what guarantees they can get on extra state spending in their own constituencies (electoral areas) on hospitals, roads, schools, local projects and so on.
That's not a surprise. It's what independents do, with most of them elected on simplistic platforms calling for more spending on emotive local issues and, of course, opposing water charges.
Often they are single issue candidates, looking to retain a local hospital or fight some other local issue. One of the current crop of independents wants cardiac services retained in his local hospital, for example.
The trouble with this stuff, of course, is that it disrupts and skews state spending on a planned and rational basis for the country as a whole. Why should one area be favored over another just because it has an independent with a vote to sell?
It's always possible to argue that a local area needs to retain its hospital, but that may not be the best use of available national resources if there is a center of medical excellence not too far away by motorway.
Equally, many areas around the country need investment and jobs and better infrastructure, but that should be done on a planned national basis, rather than favoring particular areas where there are independents who can bargain with their votes.
The two high profile Kerry independents, brothers Michael and Danny Healy Rae, and their father Jackie before them who was also an independent, are classic examples of how absurd this can get. It's not just the stage Irish caps and cute hoor Kerry talk. It's the amount of extra spending that they will be trying to channel into the Kingdom, as Kerry is known.
The late Jackie was a master at this, with huge infrastructural spending directed to Kerry by former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern to keep him on side.
Nor is this just a rural phenomenon, since there are examples of urban independents who have hit the spending jackpot as well. The most famous, older readers will remember, was the Dublin city center activist Tony Gregory, who was elected as an independent in the early 1980s and screwed huge spending for his area out of the would-be Taoiseach Charlie Haughey who needed his vote. The so-called Gregory Deal led to massive slum clearance in the city center and lots of new social housing and apartments for poorer families.
That one was easier to justify, although there were other deprived electoral areas in the city which needed similar investment and, of course, were ignored.
That's the problem with deals with independents. Even when they can be justified locally, they have consequences elsewhere in the country. It's not the way to plan spending and development at a national level.
Last weekend, sources close to Fine Gael told one newspaper that the special interest deals being looked for by independents would mean extra spending of at least €10 billion.
The fact is, despite the growing recovery here, this is spending we simply cannot afford. Even after our austerity cutbacks, Ireland still does not have a balanced budget and the state is still borrowing and the national debt is still rising in actual terms.
If the recovery continues and gathers pace, our national debt will continue to fall as a proportion of GDP, but there are serious uncertainties ahead. The global economy is still pretty dead, particularly in Europe, and there is the upcoming possibility of Brexit, with Britain leaving the EU.
For an open exporting economy like ours, these are unknowns that could have dramatic consequences here. So it's not the time to be doing under the counter spending deals with cute Kerry hoors in caps. Or anyone else.
If Fine Gael can get the support of around ten of the independents without doing that it will have around 60 votes in the Dail. This is seen as enough to get Enda Kenny re-elected as Taoiseach and for a minority government to survive, as long as Fianna Fail behaves responsibly. This would be even stronger if the Greens (2 seats) and the Social Democrats (3) also joined in and perhaps even the diminished Labour Party (7).
However, even this combination would still be short of a majority if Fianna Fail, Sinn Fein and the loony left ganged up in the Dail to vote against the government.
It shows just how difficult this situation is. Already, judged by what ones sees on media websites and elsewhere on social media, many people who voted for independents are now beginning to regret doing so.
It's a lesson that will be learned the hard way in the weeks ahead, as the lack of any coherence on policy from the varied independents becomes clearer.