27 Feb 2011

Ireland opposition claims election victory

10:00 pm on 27 February 2011

The Irish Republic's main opposition leader says his party has won a clear mandate to govern after parliamentary elections.

The BBC reports with more than half of the votes counted, it's become clear that the governing Fianna Fail party has suffered a crushing defeat.

The party is set to lose about two-thirds of its seats in parliament, after presiding over a period of massive economic downturn in Ireland.

The new government is expected to be a coalition between the main opposition party, the centre-right Fine Gael, and the centre-left Labour Party.

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny says the country has given his party a "massive endorsement" to provide stable and strong government with a clear agenda.

Fianna Fail called the vote, months after its governing coalition negotiated an 85 billion euro loan package from the European Union and International Monetary Fund.

The Irish Republic is the first EU member state that received a financial bailout to go to the polls.