Europe

Ireland votes amid austerity anger, fears of hung parliament

Ireland's voters are deciding who should lead them for the next five years as polls suggest the outcome could be a hung parliament.

Prime Minister Enda Kenny asked voters to keep his 5-year-old coalition government in power, arguing he deserved another term because of Ireland's improving employment market and return to Europe-leading growth.

All polls throughout the three-week campaign forecast that Kenny's Fine Gael party should retain its No. 1 spot. But his coalition partners, Labour, face savage losses to opposition candidates critical of the government's painful but broadly successful austerity program.

Analysts say the outcome from Friday's vote could challenge Fine Gael to form an unprecedented partnership with its decades-old nemesis, Fianna Fail, another centrist party that is expected to finish second. Both parties have ruled out partnership.