Well that wasn't expected - a Saturday polling day for General Election 2020: a first for this State.

Leo Varadkar explained his rationale by saying a weekday poll was an "inconvenience to families" through time off work, lost income, and increased childcare costs.

He argued a Saturday poll would make it easier for students, and those working away from home, to cast their ballots.

There may well be some teachers and pupils, whose schools are used as polling stations, who may disagree  but the other political parties didn't seem too bothered.

So we now have a date - February 8th - which means that there are three-and-a-half weeks campaigning to go.

Fine Gael is already out of the traps with its campaign slogan: 'A future to Look Forward to.'

Party leader Varadkar referenced three big issues in his decision to go to the country now: the completion of Phase 1 of Brexit; the restoration of the Northern institutions; and the fact that our economy has "never been stronger."

That said, his argument for seeking another term was nuanced.

He stated: "...more people (are) at work than ever before, incomes are rising, poverty is falling" but at the same time his Government shares the frustration of the public at "... the pace of progress in housing and health."

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin wasn't having any of it, saying: "... it clearly is time for a change of government."

He claimed Mr Varadkar's campaign slogan "... reveals the essence of the Fine Gael party - everything is away into the future."

Fianna Fáil's campaign slogan, recycled form 2016, is 'An Ireland for All' - something Mr Martin asserted is: "...not a slogan, it's a view point, it's a philosophy."

Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are said to be running neck-and-neck as we enter this campaign.

So the sparring between the two party leaders is going to be watched very closely.

Sinn Féin slated both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael today, with Pearse Doherty claiming they "backed each other to the hilt" while ignoring the problems being faced by ordinary people.

Only his party, he maintained, would deliver "real change."

Sinn Féin had a big win in the recent Dublin Mid West by-election, but had a difficult time in the earlier Local Elections.

So the question which will be answered by this campaign is whether the party's fortunes have turned for the better.

The Labour Party said it intended to "at least double" its number of Dáil seats and would be focusing on eliminating waste in government and boosting public service.

Green Party deputy leader Catherine Martin maintained Ireland had now entered "the green decade of change" where climate action was the priority.

Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy suggested the public knows that "things can be done an awful lot better"  and her party hopes to go into government.

All three of these centre-left parties will, to a certain extent, be fishing from the same pond. The Green Party is hoping it is going to have a very strong campaign and maybe triple its representation.

Labour is quietly confident it could be able to double its number of TDs - or at least close to that figure. On the face of it, the Social Democrats is going to face a sterner test to increase its current two seats.

Ruth Coppinger of Solidarity-People Before Profit claimed it was unfortunate smaller parties were prepared to "trade away their policies" to go into coalition with Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.

That attack is a possible indication of how much concern there is among left-leaning parties that they could face a real battle to hold onto their seats.

It is worth restating that Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael will probably only command just over 50% of the first preference vote in the General Election.

So while there will be a big focus on Varadkar vs Martin, the smaller parties and Independents have to be watched.

Peader Tóibín's new party, Aontu, is running 20 candidates and seeking three seats.

Independents4Change, minus Clare Daly and Mick Wallace, are also hitting the campaign trail.

And then there are the smaller parties, outside the outgoing Oireachtas, who are hoping to make a breakthrough.

It's a truism to say that campaigns matter. There will certainly be surprises along the way. Nothing is guaranteed.

So roll on General Election campaign 2020!