The number of TDs that can be cut in the next Dáil could be as little as six under new legislation despite Fine Gael pre-election promises that the figure would be higher.
Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan has denied performing a u-turn the number of TDs that can be cut having earlier said the figure would be 20.
He said there were limitations under the Constitution.
A new constitution commission is to be established following the results of the census which will provide for between 153 and 160 TDs in the next Dail – the maximum cut is 13.
The figures are linked to the population with new census figures out today showing 4,581,261 people living in the state.
The Electoral Amendment Bill 2011 mentions a minimum of 152 TDs but the census shows that this would not tie in with the constitutional minimum of one TD per 30,000 people.
Minister Hogan said the Commission would be asked to keep county boundaries intact as far as possible, to maintain as much continuity as possible with existing constituencies, and to have three, four or five seat constituencies.
The legislation also states that by-elections should be held within six months of a vacancy occurring.
It also cuts the spending limit for a presidential election from €1.3m to €750,000 and a reduction in the amount that can be reimbursed from the State by eligible candidates, from €260,000 to €200,000.
The new limits will be in place for the presidential election later this year.