The Irish Taoiseach has spoken out and claimed it could be months before an administration is formed in the country in the wake of the disastrous general election for his Fine Gael party. Mr Varadkar was only elected on the fifth count in his own constituency on Sunday with Sinn Fein candidate and newcomer Paul Donnelly coming first polling more than 12,000 votes.
Speaking to reporters, Mr Varadkar ruled out forming a Government with Sinn Fein and that his vote had now increased on previous elections with him being been elected four times in a row.
He predicted Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein would finish with roughly 40 seats each and constructing an administration would be difficult.
Mr Varadkar said: “Nobody can be forced into some sort of forced marriage or forced coalition.
“In order to form a Government together you have to have roughly the same views around the courts, criminal justice system, around how the economy should be run and also how democracy should function and that is what makes my party Fine Gael not compatible with Sinn Fein.”
Leo Varadkar spoke to reporters on Sunday after the election
Leo Varadkar suffered a huge blow in the election
The Taoiseach said he had made his view on coalition clear during the election campaign.
He added: “We won the votes that we won on that basis and my position has not changed.
“What I said and my party said during the campaign was not a tactic or a strategy.
“It was what we honestly believed and for us coalition with Sinn Fein is not an option but we are willing to talk to other parties about the possibility of forming a Government, one that can lead the country forward for the next five years.”
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Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald
He added: “It is going to be a number of weeks or a number of months before we are in a position to form a Government.”
No party is expected to reach the 80-seat threshold to enable it to govern the country alone – with a coalition administration expected.
The exit polls, which were released on Saturday evening, suggest the three main parties, Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein were within 0.2 percentage points of each other.
Sinn Fein’s election performance has sent shockwaves through Ireland’s political establishment with the first wave of declarations suggesting it is set to shatter Ireland’s long-established two-party system.
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Leo Varadkar voting in the election
Leo Varadkar was quizzed by reporters on Sunday
The party, however, is unlikely to emerge with the most seats, mainly because it ran significantly fewer candidates than its two main rivals.
Fianna Fail’s leader, who said his party looked like being on course to win the most seats, failed to rule out entering government with Sinn Fein.
Arriving at the RDS count centre in Dublin, Mary Lou McDonald, Sinn Fein’s leader, branded talk of excluding her party as “undemocratic”.
She said she had been in touch with the Greens, Social Democrats and People Before Profit to discuss the prospect of them joining her party in government.
She said: ”It’s been an election about change.
“The extraordinary thing is that it seems that the political establishment – and by that I mean Fianna Fail and Fine Gael – are in a state of denial.
Micheal Martin of Fianna Fail arriving for the Irish General Election count
“They are still not listening to what the people have said.
“I want us to have a government for the people. I want us to have ideally a government with no Fianna Fail or Fine Gael in it. I have started the contact with other parties to explore over the next days whether that is a possibility.
“I also have to say this, that in any event I do not accept the exclusion – or talk of excluding our party – a party that represents almost a quarter of the electorate. I think that is fundamentally undemocratic.”
Unlike the UK, with its first-past-the-post electoral system, Ireland uses proportional representation to elect representatives, known as TDs, to its 160-seat legislature, known as the Dail.