Dublin: Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny confirmed on Wednesday that his country will go to the polls on February 26 in order to elect a new government. Kenny said that five years ago the country was on the brink of collapse and Ireland's international reputation was "in tatters", Xinhua reported.
He said that five years on there has been real progress, adding public finances were back on track, the economy was growing faster than any country in the European Union and that 135,000 people were back to work. "There is no more bailout, no more Troika and no more dead banks," he said. Irish Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Alan Kelly said voting will take place from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. local time on that day and ballot boxes will be opened the next day for vote count around the country. Philip O'Sullivan, chief economist at Investec Ireland, said Kenny's coalition government, composed of Fine Gael (the United Ireland Party) and the Labor Party, should stroll to victory. "It won a landslide majority in the 2011 election and, despite a number of defections over the past five years, still controls 60 percent of the seats in the lower house," O'Sullivan said. The coalition government has the enviable track record of presiding over the fastest growing economy in the European Union while unemployment has tumbled from 15.2 percent in early 2012 to the current 8.6 percent rate, according to the Irish economist.