The Dáil, the main house of the Irish parliament, is scheduled to vote on the position of Taoiseach, or prime minister, when it meets at 12 noon, Irish time, today.
The only candidate is Enda Kenny and if, as expected, he gets a majority of those voting, the politician from County Mayo will become the first leader of the Fine Gael party to hold the office of taoiseach after two successive general elections.
The main opposition party, Fianna Fáil, has agreed to abstain in the vote for Taoiseach, but Fine Gael will still need seven or eight extra votes from Independent members of the Dáil to secure a majority. Two TDs from the Green Party are likely to abstain.
Talks between Fine Gael representatives and Independents were still taking place last night but a lengthy draft document called “Programme for Partnership” of 150 pages had already been compiled and a positive outcome was expected.
If Kenny is successful in today's vote he will go to the official residence of President Michael D. Higgins, Áras an Uachtaráin in Dublin's Phoenix Park, to receive his seal of office.
It is expected that he will then return to the Dáil to announce the members of his new cabinet despite previous suggestions that that the names would not be announced until Tuesday.
Some of the Independents are said to be upset by the manner in which a Dáil vote on the office of Taoiseach was announced before negotiations with Fine Gael had finally concluded.
However, it is understood Fine Gael took the view that postponing the Dáil vote until next week would expose the Independents to local pressures in their constituencies and further complicate what has been a very difficult and protracted negotiating process.
There is much speculation as to the allocation of ministerial portfolios when Taoiseach-elect Kenny announces his new cabinet.
Veteran politician Michael Noonan is expected to remain in the key position of Finance Minister, where he is widely seen as having performed well. The position of Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform formerly held by Labour's Brendan Howlin may go to one of Noonan's Fine Gael colleagues such as Richard Bruton or Paschal Donohoe.
Frances Fitzgerald is expected to become Tánaiste or deputy prime minister to Enda Kenny while also holding onto her current job as Justice Minister. She is seen as a possible successor to Kenny in the future, although Simon Coveney and Leo Varadkar are also regarded as likely contenders for the leadership.
Varadkar is currently Minister for Health, but may be in line for a move to a different job such as Minister for Foreign Affairs. Coveney has been to the fore in the recent negotiations on government formation and may be given another role instead of his current position as Minister for Agriculture and Defence with speculation that implementing government policy on climate change might be part of his new portfolio. If Coveney is moved to another cabinet post, current Arts Minister Heather Humphreys is expected to get the Agriculture portfolio.
New positions as Minister for Housing and Minister for Rural Affairs are expected to be created. Three Independent TDs are expected to get senior ministerial jobs. US-born Katherine Zappone was one of the first to declare her support for Kenny as Taoiseach and is likely to be rewarded with a cabinet post such as Minister for Education or Minister for Children.
Another leading Independent, Shane Ross is tipped for a cabinet post such as Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation. Denis Naughten, formerly of Fine Gael but now an Independent TD for Roscommon-Galway, may become Minister for Rural Affairs.
Deputy Finian McGrath from Dublin Bay North is forecast to become a "super-junior" minister for disability who can attend cabinet meetings but will not have a vote. Kevin "Boxer" Moran, a first-time Independent TD for Longford-Westmeath may be appointed to the important position of junior minister at the Department of Finance with responsibility for the Office of Public Works.
Fine Gael TDs tipped for promotion include Simon Harris who is currently junior minister for finance, Regina Doherty, Marcella Corcoran Kennedy and Mary Mitchell O'Connor.