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Last Updated: Monday, 28 May 2007, 10:18 GMT 11:18 UK
Sinn Fein result 'no surprise'
Bertie Ahern
Fianna Fail will begin to form a government
It was not a surprise Sinn Fein did so badly in last week's general election, Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern has claimed.

Mr Ahern said young people in the Republic were "not tuned in to a party with Marxist socialist policies".

The election returned Fianna Fail as the largest party but without an overall majority.

Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern will begin work this week on the formation of a new government.

The taoiseach hopes he can form a coalition with the much-reduced Progressive Democrats and a number of independents.

Sinn Fein, which lost one of its five Dail seats, has been ruled out as a coalition partner by Fianna Fail.

'Economic issues'

Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern said he was not surprised at Sinn Fein's poor showing.

"I was always confident... when we got Sinn Fein into a situation where we were talking about bread and butter issues, talking about economic issues," he said.

"People saw that a party that has a Marxist, a socialist philosophy is not really in tune, particularly with the younger population who are all working, have cars, go on holidays and are trying to buy a house."

Fianna Fail secured 78 seats in the 166-seat assembly, but saw a decline in the vote of its previous coalition partners, the Progressive Democrats.

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

Coalition

He can count on two independents and two surviving Progressive Democrats.

The main opposition Fine Gael polled well, winning 51 seats, but its potential coalition partners Labour and the Greens fared less well.

As a result, not even these three parties combined could overtake Fianna Fail and the PDs.

The Republic of Ireland's system of proportional representation means that parties' representation in the Dail (lower house of parliament) closely matches their percentage of the vote.

The taoiseach has led a coalition government since 1997 - a period of sustained economic growth for the Republic.






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