Five counts later, Leo Varadkar finally achieves voting quota 3 months ago

Five counts later, Leo Varadkar finally achieves voting quota

A difficult Sunday for the outgoing Taoiseach.

As the fallout from General Election 2020 continues and we await a definitive overall picture of the future of Irish politics, Leo Varadkar has had to wait significantly longer than he perhaps anticipated to be confirmed as a member of the 33rd Dáil.

The outgoing Taoiseach was initially usurped in his Dublin West constituency by Sinn Féin's Paul Donnelly, who exceeded the required quota of 8,726 first preference votes by almost 4,000.

Receiving a total of 8,478 votes on the first count, Varadkar failed to reach the quota. That number increased to 8,596 on the second count, still falling somewhat short of the desired figure.

Count number three failed to confirm Varadkar, while count number four found him just 20 votes short on 8,706 as a long night began to sink in.

At this point, he opted to conserve energy via a bag of popcorn, later lamenting that "the pizza will be cold by the time this is done now".

Finally, five counts in total later as the clock struck 9.15pm, Leo Varadkar was officially deemed elected to Dáil Éireann on 8,763 confirmed votes.

Sunday proved a much better day for Sinn Féin, with the party confirming 24 seats as of 9pm. Of those, Cork South-Central representative Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire holds the distinction of becoming the first TD to be officially elected in this campaign.

Speaking before a packed media scrum at the RDS in the afternoon, Mary Lou McDonald underlined her vision of a new government without Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil in power.

"I want us to have a government for the people," McDonald said.

"I want us to have ideally a government with no Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael in it. I have started the contact with other parties to explore over the next days whether or not that is a possibility. But I also have to say this in any event, I do not accept the exclusion or talk of excluding our party, a party that represents now almost a quarter of the electorate. I think that is fundamentally undemocratic.

"We've been in touch with The Greens, The Social Democrats, with People before Profit and there are others," she continued.

"I said throughout the campaign - and I meant it when I said it - that we need change, we need a new government. The best outcome is a government without Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil so that's the first thing that I want to test, whether or not that is possible.

"I also have consistently said that I will talk to and listen to everybody. I think that's what grown-ups do. I think that's what democracy demands."