Irish Prime Minister Charles Haughey's minority government fell by two votes after eight months in office, forcing the third general election in 18 months.
Mr. Haughey, who came to power last March for the second time, was defeated, 82 to 80, in a vote of no-confidence in the Dail (lower house of Parliament).
Mr. Haughey, leader of the governing Fianna Fail Party, announced after the vote that he would ask President Patrick Hillery to dissolve the Dail to clear the way for yet another election.
Many observers have already picked former Prime Minister Garret FitzGerald, head of the Fine Gael Party, who defeated Mr. Haughey in a general election last year, as a strong favorite to regain power. Political sources expected an election would be held within three to four weeks.
The Haughey government had been beset by scandals and rifts within Fianna Fail ranks as it struggled to revive an ailing economy afflicted by chronic foreign debts, 17 percent inflation, and 13 percent unemployment.
A return of Mr. FitzGerald could improve relations with the British government. Mr. Haughey has been at odds with London over the creation of an Anglo-Irish council set up by Mr. FitzGerald with British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to foster cooperation between the Irish Republic and neighboring Northern Ireland. Mr. FitzGerald cherishes the idea of a united Ireland, but upset some supporters when he suggested stripping away sectarian aspects of the Constitution.