The new Irish parliament opened on Thursday with no immediate prospect of a government being formed following last month's inconclusive general election.
Outgoing prime minister Enda Kenny and his biggest rival, opposition Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin, both failed to win enough support in parliament to become the new prime minister, as the vote split along party lines.
Kenny received 57 votes in the 158-seat parliament, while 43 members voted for Martin and 24 voted for Gerry Adams, the leader of nationalist party Sinn Fein.
Kenny's Fine Gael party remains the largest party in the Dail, or lower house of parliament, with 50 seats, despite losing 24 seats in the election on February 26.
The centre-right Fianna Fail has 44 seats.
Media reports have suggested that the next government could be an alliance between the two parties, which are historical arch rivals.
Sinn Fein, the third-largest party in parliament, has insisted that it won't enter a coalition government with either of the two centre-right parties.
Kenny has "moved to shore up his support" within Fine Gael amid speculation that Fianna Fail could "seek his head as the price for a 'grand coalition,' the Irish Independent said.
There is a "growing view" inside Fianna Fail that the party's best option is to support a Fine Gael minority government, giving it the power to determine the timing of a another general election, the newspaper said.
The parliament is expected to be adjourned to allow further negotiations on the formation of a government.