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TOO CLOSE TO CALL IN IRISH ELECTION; Exit poll has Sinn Fein, Fine Gael and Fianna Fail all on 22%.

Byline: FERGHAL BLANEY

THE exit poll for the Irish General Election last night put the top three parties all on 22%.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar's Fine Gael appeared to have turned it around in the last days of canvassing after bouncing back in the crucial figures released at 10pm.

Sinn Fein, under Mary Lou McDonald, had their highest showing ever, while Micheal Martin's Fianna Fail were still on course to win the most seats.

The result showed the three big parties practically level-pegging, with all of them on 22%.

Fine Gael had a slight edge on 22.4%.

Counting election morning n ail Sinn Fein held their own on 22.3%, while Fianna Fail were on 22.2%, making it a virtual dead heat.

But with a margin of error of 1.3% it's impossible to split the difference between the top three.

It was a stunning turnaround for the outgoing Government party of Fine Gael. They were looking like they were in freefall, but now could theoretically challenge again to be the lead party in terms of seats after the counting is done.

There was a mixture of jubilation and confusion among the party chiefs of Fine Gael, Sinn Fein and Fianna Fail last night.

Fine Gael had been as low as 20% in opinion polls, Sinn Fein were riding high at up to 25%, with fears they would plummet after a bad week, and Fianna Fail hovered around 23% worried they might fall between the two stools.

It was virtually impossible last night to see how exactly the votes would spread in the next day or two, with the last seats in the majority of constituencies going to go down to the wire. The exit poll was conducted by Ipsos/MRBI for RTE, the Irish Times, TG4 and UCD.

Counting of votes commences this morning at 9am.

irish@mgn.co.uk

plummet after a Fail worried between It was last night the the the majority going win the most the of own Fail it a Fa wb lt g n t n ail 9am Counting of votes in the election starts this morning

CAPTION(S):

CASTING VOTES Mary Lou McDonald, Leo Varadkar and Micheal Martin

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Author:FERGHAL BLANEY
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUIR
Date:Feb 9, 2020
Words:366
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