Ireland’s newly elected lawmakers were settling in for a protracted period of negotiations over the formation of a new government Tuesday, as the counting of votes cast Friday was wrapping up. The new legislature, which is known as Dáil Éireann, will meet for the first time on March 10, though there are few signs that a government would be in place by then, or in subsequent weeks. While a number of alignments between parties and independent lawmakers are possible, none seems easy to arrange as long as the two large center-right groupings—Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil—remain reluctant to work together. A second election is possible, though most parties will seek to avoid a contest this year to gain time to rebuild their war chests.
One soft deadline for the formation of a new government is March 28, when Ireland commemorates the centenary of the Easter Rising, an armed rebellion that set the country on a path toward independence from the U.K. in 1922. However, negotiations may continue beyond that date.
The outcome of the vote resembles the inconclusive results of polls last year in Portugal and Spain after which the composition of the government was unclear for a prolonged period. Ireland is further advanced in its recovery from deep economic crisis and in efforts to repair government finances than its two eurozone partners.