The Irish government today called an early general election for February 25, the country's first national vote since its financial bailout.
Prime Minister Brian Cowen announced that parliament was being dissolved, more than a year before his term in office was due to expire.
Cowen, who is not standing for reelection, was forced in November to accept a European Union/International Monetary Fund 85 billion euro ($113 billion) bailout after the eurozone debt crisis brought the Irish economy to its knees.
Cowen's Fianna Fail party is expected to suffer a crushing defeat at the upcoming election, as voters blame them for mismanaging the economy.
compiled from agency reports