This chapter outlines the background to the election. Starting by briefly sketching the history of the Irish party system, it surveys the main developments of the period 2016–20, covering the lifetime of the Fine Gael-led minority government that had a confidence and supply relationship with the second largest party, Fianna Fáil. These four years saw sustained economic growth and social reform, notably the 2018 referendum removing constitutional restrictions on the provision of abortion, but there were persisting problems in the areas of housing and health. Two of the country’s three main parties changed leaders during this period. When the government was formed many expected it to last only a matter of months but, despite occasional alarms, its parliamentary support held up until early 2020.