AS many as four members of the cabinet, including Tánaiste Mary Harney and Justice minister Michael McDowell, would lose their Dáil seats if the local election results were replicated in a general election.

Applying the local elections results to each Dáil constituency ? a process carried out for the Sunday Tribune by political analyst Odran Flynn ? the government is on course to lose a whopping 25 seats. The analysis also suggests an alternative rainbow coalition would have the numbers to form a government.

Based on the voting patterns in the locals, Fine Gael would claw back all its losses from the general election wipeout of 2002, bringing it to within four seats of Fianna Fáil's total of 60 seats ? the lowest margin since its days as Cumann na nGael.

While Labour's seat numbers would remain static in this scenario, the combined FG/Labour and Green seat total would come to 83 seats, a de facto majority.

The other two ministers in danger of losing their seats are agriculture minister Joe Walsh and defence minister Michael Smith, both of whom are expected to lose their cabinet positions in a reshuffle.

Former junior minister Liz O'Donnell is also vulnerable, as are ministers of state Noel Treacy and Ivor Callely.

A number of high-profile opposition deputies are also in danger, including Green Party leader Trevor Sargent, Labour's Brendan Howlin and Joan Burton, and Independent TD/MEP Marian Harkin.

The analysis suggests speculation about Sinn Féin winning 15 or more seats in a general election is misplaced.

Based on the locals, the party would only gain four new seats.