With final numbers in a heavily fractured Dail parliament not expected until today, Gerry Adams dismissed any idea that his party would support one of the traditionally dominant forces in Irish politics, Fine Gael and Fianna Fail.
“We aren’t going to go in there [to government] and betray our electorate and betray the other people who need a progressive government,” he said. “We are not going to go in and prop up a regressive and negative old conservative government, whatever the particular party political complexion.”
Mr Adams’s rejection of what would be a left-right coalition maintains the position his party adopted during the lacklustre election campaign.
With support for establishment parties plunging to a near record low, prospects for a new coalition government are in deep disarray and protracted negotiations are likely.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny ruled out resigning or re-running the poll. The prime minister’s Fine Gael party lost about 30 seats, while its Labour Party partner was humiliated by the prospect of retaining fewer than ten seats.
Predictions point to a remarkable electoral swing where the political powerhouses of Fianna Fail and Fine Gael will struggle to secure 50 per cent of popular support for the first time in history.
Mr Kenny said his party would remain a large bloc in the new Dail, despite losing the largest majority it had ever secured.
He said: “I’d like to think that it could be possible … to be able to put a government together that could work through the many challenges we have.”