I know that many have viewed Bertie as a certainty for the next Taoiseach, is that the case? Enda Kenny has said that Fianna Fáil leading the next government is not yet a foregone conclusion.
I personally believe that Bertie is in the driving seat when it comes to the formation of the next government. That being said his options are not as numerous as others make out.
Option 1: Fianna Fáil, PD's and Independents
This seems to be the favoured option for many in Fianna Fáil and is looking like a probable outcome. They can rely on Jackie Healy-Rae and Beverly Cooper Flynn as they are both Fianna Fáil gene pool independents.
Tony Gregory has a history of supporting minority Fianna Fáil governments and is known to be interested in the job of Ceann Comhairle.
Finian McGrath will go with either block if it means he gets his shopping list however as he is a republican would most likely prefer Fianna Fáil.
The two PD TD's are both ex-Fianna Fáil and have worked with Fianna Fáil for the last decade. Harney wants the job of health minister (heaven forbid!!!!) and will get it under this coalition.
84 is the magic number in the Dáil however it could be 83 if the Ceann Comhairle is a supporter of the government.
Fianna Fáil have 78, PD's 2 and Independents 5.
Fianna Fáil could most likely get the required 84 under this option.
Option 2: Fianna Fáil and the Greens
This shouldn't take long, it's not going to happen! For a number of reasons.
Fianna Fáil's vested interests in construction and farming will go bananas if they are admitted to government and many in Fianna Fáil consider them "flaky". Trevor Sargent has already said that he would have to resign as leader if the Green's went into government with Fianna Fáil and that is the last thing that the Green's want.
Option 3: Fianna Fáil and Labour
This would be the most stable and secure coalition as together they hold 98 seats. That being said the cabinet positions that Labour would require would annoy several Fianna Fáil back benchers who are close to getting their hands on a "merc". If Fianna Fáil were cute though they would go with this option for strategic long term vested interests.
The only reason that Fine Gael won 20 seats was because they used Labour as a foot stool to gain respectability. If Fianna Fáil could break up the "alternative coalition" at this stage, by bringing Labour into government, then they would almost guarantee themselves a place in government for the next 10 years.
They only have one coalition option and that is a grand coalition
Fine Gael/PD/Labour/Green/Independents and possibly implicit support from Sinn Féin.
This is the least likely outcome however at this stage, numerically, it is still possible. Fine Gael need to get Labour and the Greens to stay onside. This may prove a hard task however it will be the easiest of all the tasks that Enda Kenny will have to pull off.
With Fine Gael, Labour and Greens this equals 77 seats, just one behind Fianna Fáil.
Michael Lowry is ex-Fine Gael and so could possibly be counted so that places them on 78.
That leaves us with the PD's (2), Independents (4) and Sinn Féin (4).
That means that the "alternative government" would need to secure 6 of the 10 TD's.
Firstly, he hasn't got a hope in hell of getting Jackie Healy-Rae as he is a South Kerry republican from the Fianna Fáil voting base. Jackie wants his son to succeed him next time around and knows that a deal with the blue-shirts will make that impossible.
Beverly Cooper Flynn is also another tricky one as she is ex-Fianna Fáil and despite being elected as an independent got elected on a Fianna Fáil vote. She will also be facing a possible bankruptcy challenge from RTÉ which would force her to vacate her seat. If this did happen Fine Gael would win the seat.
I personally find this coalition option unlikely as it would be very hard to put together, with Harney demanding Health and the Greens and Labour against co-location.
This would also require Sinn Féin to abstain from the vote for Taoiseach and although they did that the last time there is no reason to believe that they will do so now in order to facilitate an anti-Republican Blue Shirt Taoiseach.
I also don't believe that this would be a stable or good coalition for the country.
At this moment in time I am calling it as either
1) Fianna Fáil/PD/Indo
2) Fianna Fáil/Labour