A TOTAL of 564 candidates have thrown their hats in the ring to contest the 2011 General Election.
An increase in nominations from Independent hopefuls has boosted numbers -- with the result that there are 100 more candidates than in the last election which was held in May, 2007.
The number running as Independents or for smaller parties is 233 -- in contrast to the 108 who ran in that category in 2007.
Opposition parties have also chosen to field more candidates in a bid to scoop up floating voters around the country.
Fine Gael has 104 candidates, an increase on the 91 it ran in 2007.
The Labour Party is fielding 68 candidates, an increase on the 50 who put themselves before the electorate for the party almost four years ago.
As a result of its implosion in the opinion polls and the decision of many party stalwarts to stand down, Fianna Fail has dropped its level of candidates.
It is fielding 75, down from 106 in 2007.
Sinn Féin is running 41 contestants, the same number as in 2007. This includes the party president, Gerry Adams, who is running in the five-seater Louth constituency.
Mr Adams stepped down from his West Belfast seat in the Northern Ireland Assembly and has resigned from his Westminster seat in a bid to take the Republic by storm despite criticism of his weakness on economic matters.
The Green Party, which has been criticised for the decisions it took while in Government, is fielding 43 hopefuls.
A number of smaller parties have emerged in a bid to entice undecided voters.
New Vision, a new political group of Independents, is fielding 19 candidates in the election. Among those running is Eamon Blaney -- a cousin of Fianna Fail's Niall Blaney -- in Dublin North-East and Dara Blaney, son of the late Neill T Blaney, in Donegal North-East.
The party also features former Libertas campaign adviser John McGuirk, who is running in the Cavan-Monaghan constituency.
However, tensions have emerged between this new organisation and another fledgling party, which is also calling itself is Fis Nua (New Vision).
In a statement last night, Fis Nua said it had asked those involved in New Vision to join with it or change its name to avoid confusing the electorate during the campaign.
Fis Nua said both parties had mutual concerns in relation to the separation of bank debt from sovereign debt, as well as the bank bailout.
However, the approach has been rejected and Fis Nua (New Vision) said it will now run five candidates in the election.
"The group calling itself New Vision is not to be confused with the officially registered political party Fis Nua," a spokesman for the party said.
Election nominations yesterday closed at midday across the country.
However, candidates who have registered their names can withdraw them up to midday today.
The total number of people on the Electoral Register 2011/2012 is 3,161,854.
This compares with 3,066,517 on the register for the last general election in 2007--- an increase of 95,337 voters.
These recent figures do not include additions to the Supplementary Register.