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An Analysis of General Election Results 2007-2020

Published on 7 March 2021 at 12:47

This article will discuss the past four general election results for the respective parties in Ireland. We will briefly analyse the results for each party and the impact the results have had on the parties and the country as a whole.

2007

Party Seats won % of 1st Preference Change in vote
Fianna Fáil 77 41.56% -1 Seat +0.1%
Fine Gael 51 27.32% +19 seats +4.8%
Labour 20 10.13% - 1 Seat -0.7%
Green Party 6 3.8% ±0 Seats +0.9%
Sinn Féin 4 6.9% -1 Seat +0.4%
Progressive Democrats 2 2.7% -6 Seats -1.3%
Independents 5 5.15% -8 Seats -3.8%

Outcome: Fianna Fáil- Green Party- Progressive Democrats Coalition.

Elected Taoiseach: Bertie Ahern

 

As seen above, the 2007 election saw a surge of support for Fine Gael as they gained 19 seats and increased their overall vote share by nearly 5 points. Fine Gael and Labour had agreed to a pre-election transfer pact. The two parties signed ‘the Mullingar Accord’, which outlined the parties’ vision for an alternative government. However, this pact was more successful for Fine Gael than Labour as the party failed to gain any seats and lost a seat. Following a poor showing from Labour, Pat Rabbitte took responsibility and stepped down as Labour leader.

 

This election was another success for Fianna Fáil and gave Bertie Ahern a strong mandate to continue as Taoiseach. On the other hand, his coalition partners, the Progressive Democrats, only retained two of their eight seats with An Tánaiste and leader of the PDs, Michael McDowell, losing his seat.

 

Smaller left-wing parties failed to make progress in this election, with Sinn Féin losing one seat, the Socialist Party losing their only seat, and S-PBP not winning a seat.

 

2011

Party Seats Won % 1st Preference Change in vote
Fine Gael 76 36.10% +25 Seats +8.8%
Labour 37 19.45% +17 Seats +9.3%
Fianna Fáil 20 17.45% -57 Seats -24.2%
Sinn Féin 14 9.94% +10 Seats +3.9%
United Left Alliance∗ 5 2.7% +5 Seats +2.7%
Green Party 0 1.8% -6 Seats -2.9%
Independents 14 14.25% +9 Seats +6.9%

The United Left Alliance(ULA) was an alliance between the Socialist Party, PBP Alliance, Workers and Unemployed Action, and the independent candidate Declan Bree.

Outcome: Fine Gael-Labour coalition

Elected Taoiseach: Enda Kenny

 

The 2011 election was nothing short of ground-breaking for Irish politics. It saw the decimation of Fianna Fáil as Ireland faced the fallout of spiralling interest rates from the EU, the previous government providing banks with a bailout, and a failing economy. This was Fianna Fáil’s worst general election result, and the worst result for a sitting government in the history of the Irish state. It may be on the same level (or perhaps worse) than the Conservative Party’s humiliation in the 1997 British General Election. The junior coalition partner of the former Fianna Fáil government, the Green Party, lost all of their seats and their vote share fell to below 2%, resulting in the loss of state funding.

 

Conversely, Fine Gael had their best showing and became the largest party in the state for the first time in the party’s history. The Labour Party also had their best performance in an election and became the second largest party in the Dáil. Labour won a total of 18 seats in Dublin and became the largest party in the country’s capital. As Fine Gael came short of an overall majority, they entered into government formation talks with Labour and a programme for government was agreed upon and later ratified by the two respective parties.

 

The election was also a success for Sinn Féin, who won 14 seats. This was the party’s best electoral performance since its modern inception in the Republic. Adding to this, the Socialist Party re-entered the Dáil, winning two seats, as their left alliance partners PBP and WUA also made gains in the election.

 

2016

Party Seats Won % 1st preference Change since the prior election
Fine Gael 50 25.52% -26 Seats -10.58%
Fianna Fáil 44 24.35% +24 Seats +6.9%
Sinn Féin 23 13.85% +9 Seats +3.91%
Labour 7 6.61% - 30 Seats -12.84%
AAA-PBP* 6 3.95% +2 Seats +1.7%
Independents 4 Change 4 1.5% +4 Seats +1.5%
Social Democrats 3 3.01% +3 Seats +3.01%
Green Party 2 2.72% +2 Seats +0.9%
Independents 13 11.7% -1 Seat +1.3%*
Ind. Alliance 6 4.2% +6 Seats +4.2%

*AAA-PBP contested the 2011 election as separate parties under the ULA but registered as a formal party in 2015. The change in seat numbers and % combine the gains of the two parties.

*Some Independents elected in 2011 joined Ind. 4 Change and Ind. Alliance, but of those who remained independent, their percentage of 1st preference votes increased.

 

Outcome: Fine Gael minority government, with a Confidence and Supply Agreement with Fianna Fáil and supported by some independents.

Elected Taoiseach: Enda Kenny

 

This election took place in an Ireland that was still recovering from the economic fallout and a transformed society. Ireland legalised same-sex marriage by popular vote the previous year, but the government was facing stinging criticism throughout the nation, particularly Joan Burton of Labour. The nationwide protests against the government’s attempt to introduce water charges left the previous government, particularly the Labour Party, in a precarious position heading into this election.

 

The 2016 election signalled the end of the Fine Gael-Labour coalition and led to the near wipe-out of the Labour Party across the country. Labour only managed to retain 19% of their seats, suffering massive losses. Sinn Féin broke more records for the second election in a row, achieving their best result under Gerry Adams, and became the third-largest party in the Dáil at the expense of Labour.

 

Fine Gael also experienced large losses in this election, only winning 50 seats. The election was a clear rejection of the previous coalition, but Fine Gael still came out as the largest party, finishing narrowly ahead of Fianna Fáil. Mícheál Martin’s Fianna Fáil was able to recover some votes and seats they haemorrhaged in 2011, becoming the 2nd largest party in the Dáil. However, this election was the first time in the history of the state that the combined vote of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil failed to reach above 50%.

 

The Greens managed to win back two seats after their vote collapsed in 2011. The newly formed Social Democrats also returned the three founding members of the party to the Dáil. Finally, the AAA-PBP made gains and won six seats in this election, the best result to date for the left-wing PBP and their partners.

 

 

2020

Party Seats Won % 1st Preference Change compared to the last election
Fianna Fáil 38 22.18% -6 Seats -2.17%
Sinn Féin 37 24.53% +14 Seats +10.68%
Fine Gael 35 20.86% -15 Seats -4.66%
Green Party 12 7.13% +10 Seats +4.41%
Labour 6 4.38% -1 Seat -2.23%
Social Democrats 6 2.90% +3 Seats -0.11%
S-PBP 5 2.63% -1 Seat -1.32%
Aontú 1 1.9% +1 Seat +1.9%
Inds. 4 Change 1 0.4% - 3 Seats -1.1%
Independents 19 12.2% +6 Seats +0.5%

Outcome: Fianna Fáil-Fine Gael-Green Party coalition

Elected Taoiseach: Micheál Martin until 2022, Leo Varadkar for the remainder of the term.

 

Despite not winning the most seats in the election, Sinn Féin were the clear winners of the election securing nearly a quarter of first-preference votes. This was Sinn Féin’s best election to date in the Republic. The party topped the poll in many constituencies with some candidates receiving nearly twice the quota in some areas. However, there was an unwillingness from Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael to form a government with the party, and Mary Lou McDonald is now the leader of the opposition.

 

The election was also a huge success for the Green Party as Eamon Ryan led the party to its best result, winning 12 seats. The Social Democrats also achieved positive results, winning 6 seats, some of which were unexpected. The Labour Party lost further ground, losing another seat. Brendan Howlin stepped down as leader after another disappointing showing from the Irish Labour Party.

 

The civil war parties also lost ground in the election with Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael both losing a significant number of seats. It was the second election in a row in which the ‘big two’ parties failed to receive over 50% of first preference votes combined. However, the two parties, along with the Greens, formed a historic coalition government after weeks of discussions and debates within the respective parties.

 

S-PBP looked on track to lose a number of their seats, but thanks to large amounts of transfers from Sinn Féin, the party managed to limit their losses, with Ruth Coppinger the party’s only sitting TD to lose a seat.

 

The 2020 election saw many fringe and far-right parties on the ballot for the first time, with most of them failing to make any significant impact. Peadar Tóibín’s Aontú entered the Dáil for the first time, with Tóibín managing to retain his seat in Meath West.


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