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Ireland votes amid austerity anger, fears of hung parliament

/ 04:10 PM February 26, 2016
Presiding Officer Carmel McBride looks on as a resident casts his ballot as voting gets underway on the island of Inishbofin Ireland. People living on the remote isle  of Inishbofin off the coast of Donegal are among the first to cast their ballots in Ireland's General Election, a day ahead of the rest of the country.  (Niall Carson/PA Via AP)  UNITED KINGDOM OUT  NO SALES NO ARCHIVE

Presiding officer Carmel McBride looks on as a resident casts his ballot as voting gets underway on the island of Inishbofin in Ireland. People living on the remote isle of Inishbofin off the coast of Donegal are among the first to cast their ballots in Ireland’s general election, a day ahead of the rest of the country. AP

DUBLIN—Ireland’s voters are deciding who should lead them for the next five years as polls suggest the outcome could be a hung parliament.

Prime Minister Enda Kenny asked voters to keep his 5-year-old coalition government in power, arguing he deserved another term because of Ireland’s improving employment market and return to Europe-leading growth.

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All polls throughout the three-week campaign forecast that Kenny’s Fine Gael party should retain its No. 1 spot. But his coalition partners, Labour, face savage losses to opposition candidates critical of the government’s painful but broadly successful austerity program.

Analysts say the outcome from Friday’s vote could challenge Fine Gael to form an unprecedented partnership with its decades-old nemesis, Fianna Fail, another centrist party that is expected to finish second. Both parties have ruled out partnership.

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