Europe

Next Irish government in limbo as lawmakers convene for vote

Ireland's new parliament is convening for the first time to elect a government leader. But analysts expect no candidate to attract a parliamentary majority, signaling weeks of political uncertainty as Prime Minister Enda Kenny adopts a much-weakened caretaker role.

Kenny's Fine Gael remains the largest party in Ireland's parliament following the Feb. 26 election. But Fine Gael no longer has a coalition partner strong enough to deliver a majority.

Kenny and his only serious challenger for the prime minister's post, Fianna Fail party leader Micheal Martin, both seek support from small parties and independent lawmakers. But most are expected to abstain from Thursday's vote.

Failure to elect a leader would leave Kenny's government in office — but unable to wield power — during several weeks of coalition negotiations.