Exit polls suggests huge losses for Fine Gael and Labour

Looks like it will be a bad day for Enda Kenny and Joan Burton
Looks like it will be a bad day for Enda Kenny and Joan Burton

FINE Gael’s core support has been dramatically reduced as voters flocked to support independent candidates

That, and a rise in support for Fianna Fail, is the finding of the second exit poll of General Election 2016.

And the Labour Party has suffered an annihilation and could lose up to 30 seats, according to the Behavioural and Attitudes poll carried out for RTÉ.

The poll findings, detailed on ‘Morning Ireland’, are as follows:

Fine Gael: 24.8 per cent; Fianna Fáil: 21.1pc, Sinn Féin: 16pc and Labour: 7.1pc.

The findings show that it will be impossible for the FG/Labour coalition to be returned. It also shows that Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin will have more combined support than the coalition partners.

The findings also show significant support for smaller parties and independents.

They are as follows:

Anti-Austerity Alliance/ People Before Profit (AAA/PBP) 4.7pc, Green Party 3.6pc, Social Democrats 4.7pc, Independent Alliance 3pc, Independents 11pc, others 2.6pc.

Ballot boxes will open at 9am as the count begins.

Professor Michael Marsh from the Department of Political Science in Trinity College Dublin today predicted that Fine Gael would win 46 seats, while Fianna Fáil will acquire 37 seats. Sinn Féin will win 27 seats, he told Morning Ireland today. Meanwhile, he said Labour would get nine seats, the Social Democrats would get seven seats, while People Before Profit would get six seats.

The Trinity academic said the Green Party would win four seats, while the Independent alliance would win four seats. Renua would win three seats, he said, while 13 Independents would win seats, and two seats would go to Independents for change.

The latest exit poll follows an Irish Times exit poll, released last night, which indicates that the outgoing Coalition has no chance of being returned - and no other block or group of parties has made a significant breakthrough.

Fianna Fáil has made a comeback and will remain the second biggest party but at 22.9pc will struggle to form an alternative government.

The poll shows that Fine Gael got 26.1pc of first-preference votes while Labour got just 7.8pc. This is one-fifth fewer what they achieved in 2011.

If those results play out once boxes are opened this morning, the positions of Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tánaiste Joan Burton as leaders of their parties will be in doubt.

Late last night, Mr Kenny's constituency colleagues Michael Ring refused to say if his leadership was secure.

Micheal Martin will be able to claim a small victory by raising Fianna Fáil's vote from 17pc five years ago to 22.9pc today.

Former minister Mary Hanafin said that figure could help the party to nearly double its seats in Leinster House to around 40 which would be an "enormous boost".