Irish PM wins general elections

Updated: 2007-05-27 18:28

As the final parliamentary seats are declared in Ireland on Sunday, Prime Minister Bertie Ahern's party emerged winner in Thursday's general elections but failed to get a majority.

Ahern's Fianna Fail party gained 78 seats in the 166-seat Dail (lower house of the parliament), but his previous coalition partner, the Progressive Democratic Party, only got two seats, a sharp decline from its previous eight seats.

The main opposition Fine Gael won 51 seats and its alliance, the Labor Party, got 20 seats. The Green Party gained six seats, Sinn Fein collected four and independents five.

Ahern faces the prospect of tough talks with opposition parties to build a coalition government.

In an interview on Irish Broadcaster RTE on Saturday, Ahern said his party had a "lot of options" open to it, but stability was top on his agenda and the biggest consideration when it came to forming a government.

Michael McDowell, former Deputy Prime Minister and Progressive Democratic Party leader, has retired from politics after losing his seat.

There have been speculations that Ahern might seek an arrangement with the Labor Party. However, this might prove less popular with his party because it would mean fewer ministerial jobs on offer than in combination with a smaller party.

Ahern has led a coalition government since 1997, a period of sustained economic growth for the country.

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