Ireland’s Green Party is expected to enjoy a surge following the European elections.
Counting started on Saturday morning but results will not start to emerge until Sunday evening due to the Europe-wide embargo.
However, an exit poll has suggested the Green Party will top the poll in Dublin.
The increased support looks widespread, even accounting for a 4% margin of error, and could see an unexpected boost in Ireland’s two other constituencies, RTE said.
Green Party leader Eamon Ryan gave the outlook a cautious welcome.
“We cannot yet count our chickens but the exit polls for the Irish Greens are extremely encouraging,” he said.
“Our MEP candidates Ciaran Cuffe, Saoirse McHugh and Grace O’Sullivan have put their heart and soul into campaigning across the three constituencies over the past few months.”
He told RTE earlier: “We knew there was going to be a Green vote and it’s everywhere; it’s rural Ireland, urban Ireland, younger Ireland, older Ireland.
“It’s reflective of a green wave of thinking that’s happening all over the world, all across Europe. We were waiting for it to rise here and it has risen today.
“We still don’t know the results obviously. We’re going to be close on a couple of the European seats. I think we’re in with a chance.”
Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar interpreted the Green surge as a signal from the electorate that they want the Government to “do more on climate action”.
He added it has been a very good election for his party.
“We have won the popular vote. And our vote is up in all three constituencies,” he told RTE.
Sinn Fein President Mary-Lou McDonald has insisted her party still hopes to return four MEPs – three in the Republic of Ireland and one in Northern Ireland.
“We are in the hunt still for four European seats, these are tight contests,” she said.
“We don’t have anything beyond the exit polls but I can say two things that we knew all along, that each of the contests will be very competitive and tight, and that we are still very much in the reckoning in all of those contests.”
The Irish broadcaster commissioned a RedC exit poll. The polling firm spoke to 3,230 voters in stations across Ireland.
Ireland has 13 European Parliament seats.
A Europe-wide embargo means the first results in that poll cannot be declared until 10pm on Sunday.
Local council elections results are also being counted, as is a referendum on divorce laws – with a Yes vote set to reduce the lengthy period separated couples have to wait before they can obtain a formal divorce.
Early indications are that over 80% have voted in favour of liberalising divorce laws.
Culture Minister Josepha Madigan welcomed the expected yes vote.
“I think it’s an emphatic unequivocal result, it should be a resounding yes, and even if we have a very low marital breakdown in Ireland, it just demonstrates the amount of people who stand in solidarity with them,” she said.
“It’s a real groundswell of support and compassion for all those people suffering from marital breakdown and I really want to thank the Irish people for coming out and supporting them.”