Human rights activist and poet Michael D. Higgins is on course to win the presidency in Ireland after early vote tallies show the candidate is significantly ahead of his nearest rival, the Telegraph reports.
No definitive result has been announced in the country, yet, but the early counts show Higgins ahead of businessman and TV star Sean Gallagher in most of the constituencies, according to the Guardian.
Gallagher had been the leader in the polls until Monday’s television debate in Ireland when another candidate accused him of improper campaign funds.
United Kingdom bookmaker Paddy Power has already closed its books because the site announced Higgins the obvious winner, according to the Guardian.
Higgins, a former University College Galway lecturer in sociology and politics, is credited as an intellectual heavyweight of Irish politics with three published collections of poetry to his credit and a four-decade record of promoting home-grown arts, literature, film and the native Gaelic language. Unlike other English-only candidates and most of the nation, Higgins spoke the native Irish tongue fluently on the campaign trail.
Higgins has also been highly critical of U.S. foreign policy in Central America, Iraq and Afghanistan. He has championed left-wing human rights cases around the world, and has condemned the “get-rich-quick excesses” of the Celtic Tiger economy.
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