Ireland debt crisis forces election
Dublin - Ireland's government has announced that voters will elect a new parliament on February 25, providing a 3 1/2-week campaign focused on the nation's debt crisis.
Confirmation of the election date followed Prime Minister Brian Cowen's farewell address to parliament. His speech on Tuesday was tinged with regret over the nation's plunge to the brink of bankruptcy.
Cowen is not seeking re-election. His political demise comes two months after Ireland accepted a $92bn loan package from the European Union and International Monetary Fund.
That humiliation fatally undermined his hold on power.
Cowen says voters' choices February 25 will determine "whether Ireland moves forward from this recession, or whether we prolong it or indeed succumb to it".