"It may have been a tight finish, but we were defeated so that means that people are saying to us that Fine Gael should go into opposition and we are absolutely willing to do that," Varadkar said, as quoted by the RTE broadcaster.
Despite having one less seat in parliament, Sinn Fein was the most popular party at the polls, gaining 24.5 percent of the vote, compared to Fianna Fail’s 22.2 percent. Varadkar stated that this gave Sinn Fein a mandate to attempt to form a coalition government, the broadcaster stated.
"But I think in the first instance the onus is on Sinn Fein as the lead party to honour its promises that it made to the Irish people, to form a government led by them, to get a socialist republican Programme for Government through the Dail [Irish parliament's lower house] and it is their duty now to do that," the prime minister said, as quoted by the broadcaster.
In Saturday’s vote, Varadkar’s party won 35 of the Irish parliament’s 160 seats, losing to Sinn Fein, which won 37 seats, and Fianna Fail, which gained the largest amount of seats in parliament with 38.
Paul Murphy, a newly-elected member of parliament for Dublin South West told Sputnik, that long-running anger over subpar housing and health care prompted Irish voters to turn to Sinn Fein in the most recent elections.