Prime Minister John Bruton, who led Ireland through a period of unprecedented economic prosperity, conceded narrow defeat Sunday in national elections.
His loss means that opposition leader Bertie Ahern, a 45-year-old populist Dubliner who has vowed to bring peace to Northern Ireland, likely will be tapped to head a new coalition government.
Though they have different styles, Bruton and Ahern concur on the big issues of the day - cutting crime, taxes and unemployment.
With all but one seat decided from Friday’s election, Ahern’s Fianna Fail, traditionally the largest party, won at least 77 seats in the 166-seat Dail, the lawmaking chamber of Parliament.
That gave him four seats more than Bruton’s three-party coalition.