Ireland will go to the polls on February 8 after the prime minister called a snap general election.
On Tuesday Leo Varadkar ended weeks of speculation about the timing of the election when he formally requested that the president dissolves the current parliament.
Health, housing, Brexit and climate change are expected to be the main issues in the campaign.
Mr Varadkar had said he preferred a summer election but power has been ebbing away from the minority government over the past few weeks.
The government is supported by Fianna Fail, the biggest opposition party, in a confidence and supply arrangement but was expected to lose a no confidence motion in the health minister.
The Fine Gael-led administration suffers a series of by-election losses just before Christmas which deprived it of its working majority.
It is not expected that there will be any outright winner in the election. Parliament will convene again on February 20 But it could take months to form a new government.
Opinion polls suggest that the next administration will either be a Fianna Fail or Fine Gael led coalition. Both parties, which are pro-EU with centrist economic policies, have ruled out any form of alliance with
Sinn Fein after the election.
Fine Gael’s main appeal is its handling of Brexit negotiations and the economy. Ireland has had the highest growth rate of any EU member state for the past four years, but the country is experiencing a chronic shortage of housing and chaos in the health sector.
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