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Candidates vote as Ireland heads to the polls

Credit: Reuters - Politics
Published on February 8, 2020 - Duration: 01:33s

Candidates vote as Ireland heads to the polls

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar cast his ballot in Dublin on Saturday, in a general election that is likely to remove him from power.

Emer McCarthy reports.

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Candidates vote as Ireland heads to the polls

Irish voters went to the polls on Saturday (February 8) in an election that could remove Prime Minister Leo Varadkar from power-- amid a surge by left-wing Sinn Fein.

Varadkar cast his ballot in Dublin after campaigning on his own diplomatic successes on Brexit-- helping prevent a hard border on the island.

But the strategy appears to have fallen flat amid domestic issues such as healthcare and housing, which has seen a swing by voters towards Sinn Fein.

Party leader Mary Lou McDonald urged people to "vote for change" as she also went to the polling booth in Dublin.

SOUNDBITE (English) SINN FEIN LEADER, MARY LOU MCDONALD, SAYING: "Today is a very important day.

Today is the day that the people are in charge and every single vote counts.

People have told us throughout this campaign that they want change.

That they want to change in representation and they want a change in government.

So I am saying to people: please come out today and vote for that change.

But McDonald's party is unlikely to enter government as it has put forward too few candidates.

Opinion polls point to the main opposition party Fianna Fail winning most seats and forming a coalition or minority government.

Led by Micheal Martin-- who voted Saturday morning in Cork.

Its policies on the economy and post-Brexit Ireland are broadly similar to those of Varadkar's center-right Fine Gael.

Both Fianna Fail and Fine Gael insist they will not govern with Sinn Fein.

After polls close at 10pm local time, counting will begin at 9 o'clock on Sunday (February 9) morning.

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