The General Election in the Republic of Ireland has been hailed as historic and a Political Massacre, as Fine Gael top the Poll to become the largest Party in the Dail while Fianna Fail are not only consigned to wander the political Wilderness but sent out bloodied and beaten.
So what now for the parties of the republic of Ireland
Fine Gael - 76 Seats
The New Big Dog of the Irish Yard. Fine Gael's massive gains won't bring them much of a political honeymoon, left with one one real option of a Coalition with Labour, Fine Gael will have to ensure that their Junior partner is kept under control, especially due to Labour's bad history in Coalitions. Fine Gael's main problems however do not reside in the political landscape of Ireland, where their historic Civil-war opponent now lies beaten, but instead in Brussels, wheere the European Heavyweights of Merkel and Sarkozy face their own national battles and will be looking to satisfy their electorate with Irish Red Meat.
Labour - 37 Seats
Labour have advanced to become the number 2 party of the Dail, not just in terms of Coalition, but also in Size. With their new size comes the promise of some power as the Junior partner in the Coalition, but Labour will have to be cautious, with the corpse of the last Junior party, The Greens, to serve as a reminder of what can happen to Junior Partners. Labour's time in Government however will not be made easy by the Hard-Left, who now take on the dual-form of Sinn Fein and it's Socialist Republicanism and the United Left Alliance and it's more traditional Socialism both of whom made historic gain of their own.
Fianna Fail - 20 seats
Fianna Fail lost 57 seats during the election, suffered high profile casualties, and took the record for the worst defeat ever for a Western government Party. Fianna Fail now a shadow of it's former glory face the task of Opposition while also rebuilding their party. There is some Solace, with the rise of the Hard-left, Opposition duties can now be effectively spilt, with Fianna Fail targeting Fine Gael and Sinn Fein and the ULA focusing on Labour. Fianna Fail may wish to consider challenging for more seats in the north, adopting a strategy similar to Sinn Fein, unfortunately with both Local and Assembly elections being held in Northern Ireland in May, Fianna Fail will have to put together a campaign quickly, even if it is only a token force.
Sinn Fein - 14 seats
Sinn Fein managed to gain over treble the seats they had going into the election, and brought Party president Baron Gerry Adams into the Dail. Sinn Fein will now most likely go after Labour, attacking them for going into Government with Fine Gael. Sinn Fein's focus however will shift to the North, where they hope to make enough gains to pull the DUP down into Second place and claim the title of First Minister for themselves. Sinn Fein will have to watch to see how the Unionists try to take on the momentum that Sinn Fein has gathered, but also will have to keep a eye on the ULA.
United Left Alliance - 5 seats
The Breakthrough of the United Left Alliance into the Dail has brought 2 Socialists, 2 People before Profit Alliance members and 1 Workers and Unemployed Action Group member. There have been talks of a Single Party being formed to capitalise on the gains the left alliance has made. They may also try to make similar gain in Northern Ireland where the parties that make up the ULA also run. The best bet for the ULA is to focus it's efforts on Labour, allowing Fianna Fail to handle Fine Gael.
The Green party - O seats
The Green Party suffered a total Wipeout in the election and will no doubt be out of the Dail for a while to come. The Green party will have to do as Fianna Fail plan to, and rebuild the party from scratch.
Irish politics has changed, only time will tell if it's for the better