Irish Election Called 26 February
Ireland's Prime Minister Enda Kenny, seen here arriving at an informal summit of European Union leaders in Brussels, May 27, 2014, has called an election in Ireland for Feb. 26. REUTERS/Laurent Dubrule

Ireland's Prime Minister Enda Kenny will dissolve the Irish parliament after calling for a general election on Feb. 26, using Twitter to make the announcement.

As widely expected, Kenny announced the decision after the final sitting of the 31st parliament Wednesday and will now visit Irish President Michael D Higgins to seek permission to dissolve the current parliament. The announcement will kick-start election campaigns across 40 constituencies in Ireland's 26 counties, with 158 seats up for grabs. The Dáil is set to resume on March 10 once a new government has been formed.

Before leaving parliament, Kenny signed off by saying: "To those members of the house who are not seeking re-election I wish every success and happiness in the future. I wish all other members well in their endeavors to return to the House.”

Opposition leader Micheàl Martin from Fianna Fáil complained that the prime minister failed to allow time to pay tribute to retiring parliament members, calling it “a pathetic end to a pathetic Dáil.”

The current coalition government is made up of Fine Gael and Labour Party, which gained the largest majority in the history of the Dáil in 2011, and they will be seeking a return to power having helped the Irish economy to return to growth in the last 12 months.

Fianna Fáil, the party seen by many as leading Ireland into its worst economic depression in decades, will seek to regain some of the more than 50 seats it lost in a devastating 2011 election. Republican party Sinn Féin is among those seeking to make a major impact in 2016 and will be looking to significantly increase on its current number of seats of 14.

Ireland's general election this year will also see a number of new political parties make their debut, including Renua and Social Democrats while the Anti-Austerity Alliance and People Before Profit are running on a joint platform. These will be joined by candidates for the Green Party, which lost all representatives in the 2011 election, and a range of independent candidates, some of whom have formed a group called the Independent Alliance.