Irish parliament may fail to appoint prime minister: Kenny


London (AFP)

Ireland's parliament may to fail to appoint a head of government when it meets this week for the first time after an inconclusive election, Prime Minister Enda Kenny said on Monday.

His remarks follow an election that produced no clear winner but stripped his outgoing coalition of its parliamentary majority, as voters expressed anger over continued austerity policies despite a return to economic growth.

The newly-elected lawmakers are due to gather in parliament on Thursday and in theory appoint a prime minister, and Kenny and other party leaders are expected to be proposed to lead a government.

But despite efforts to court smaller parties and independent politicians, Kenny warned it was possible no one could reach the required support of half the 158 representatives in the house.

"The indications are that nobody will be elected as taoiseach (prime minister) on Thursday," Kenny told reporters, according to the Irish Independent.

Kenny indicated that he would continue as acting prime minister until a government could be formed.

"For me the work of government goes on," Kenny said.

"I am prepared obviously in my capacity as taoiseach to work for the formation of a government that the country deserves and that the people need."

The election last month returned no obvious grouping with the ability to form a government, leaving Ireland the latest eurozone country to face political uncertainty, echoing results in Portugal and Spain.

Kenny's Fine Gael has 50 seats and nearest rivals Fianna Fail have 44, both far short of the 80 needed for a majority.

Analysts have said the clearest option would be for Fine Gael and Fianna Fail to strike a deal together for a minority government or a coalition, but though the two are both centrist parties they have deep divisions dating back to a 1920s civil war and any agreement would be politically difficult.