A general election is due to be held in Ireland on Saturday 8 February.
The Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar travelled to see President Michael D Higgins on Tuesday afternoon to ask for the formal dissolution of the Dail parliament.
He had already announced the election date, insisting it was the “right time” for Ireland to vote.
Outlining his rationale, he highlighted that the Brexit withdrawal deal had been agreed and powersharing was restored in Northern Ireland.
He said there was a window before the European Council summit in March to enable an incoming government to secure a fresh mandate ahead of the next stage of Brexit negotiations.
“As a nation, we have every reason to be hopeful about the future,” said Mr Varadkar.
“We’ve modernised our society – marriage equality, women’s rights, real progress in education, welfare and childcare.
“But, it’s not enough. I know it’s not enough. People want their Government to do much more. And I want us to do much more.”
He added: “Now I seek a fresh mandate so we can continue to build a better future. A future we can all look forward to.
“We have the team. We have the track record. We have the plans.”
Mr Varadkar’s minority Fine Gael-led administration had been facing potential defeat in a vote of no confidence in Health Minister Simon Harris in the first week of next month.
That prospect will now be averted with the calling of the election.
Mr Varadkar’s personal preference was for a poll in the early summer, but changing arithmetic in the Dail meant he could no longer guarantee a majority on key votes.
“For us and the Irish people in particular this is a vital election in terms of their future because we are facing enormous challenges,” he said.
“Particularly in terms of housing – the inability of people to afford houses, housing prices and housing rents are simply far too high and there is a deep, deep crisis of homelessness right across every level of housing.
“In health, again, we have a very serious crisis in terms of emergency departments and in terms of people waiting far too long for operations and procedures and for out-patient departments.
“Things are simply not working in this country in so many areas.”