Irish local and E.U. election outcomes offer surprises

Pressure continues building from within the coalition government to hold a national general election in the Republic of Ireland before the end of the year, perhaps Oct. 18 or Oct. 25. That brings this coverage of the local and E.U. election full circle (see original post at bottom). Remember, U.K. (Northern Ireland) elections are July 5. Happy Bloomsday and Father’s Day. MH

UPDATE 5: Counting completed

After a week of counting under Ireland’s proportional representation system, June 7 election totals are now complete. Among 14 European Union seats, Fianna Fáil doubled its previous total to four; Fianna Gael also has four seats, one fewer than before the election; Sinn Féin doubled from one to two seats; Labor took one seat and independent candidates claimed three. 

UPDATE 4: Local seat totals & turnout

With a 49 percent election turnout, the tally of 949 county and urban district seats shows:

  • Fianna Fáil, 248
  • Fianna Gael, 245
  • Independents, 227
  • Four small party total, 127
  • Sinn Féin, 102

Only 6 of 14 European Union seats had been resolved as of June 13.

UPDATE 3: Call him Mayor Moran

Independent candidate John Moran has emerged as Ireland’s first directly-elected mayor in his native city of Limerick. Mayors are normally elected by local councilors and for one-year terms. “If the new position proves a success, if Moran makes it a success over the next five years, it could well trigger similar elections in other local authority areas and potentially the biggest shake-up in local government in decades, the Irish Times reports. The story details Moran’s high-profile background, including work as a lawyer and investment banker in the U.S.

UPDATE 2: Time to undo Mary Lou?

Media speculation over whether Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald can survive her party’s poor election result is gathering pace, even as local and E.U. counting continues Tuesday morning (U.S. time):

“If Sinn Féin strategists were hoping to conduct their 2024 election postmortem in private, they might be seriously disappointed. The party is struggling to contain the fallout from the local and European elections and, for the first time, McDonald’s leadership is on the table as an item for discussion.” — Irish Times

“(McDonald) adopted an open borders policy which would allow mass immigration into Ireland. (Her) attempts to become respectable with the overwhelmingly liberal and middle-class Dublin mediocracy quite simply blew up in her face, as rising non-EU immigration has come to dominate the political agenda.” The Spectator

The unexpected level of lost support has cast doubt on the leadership of McDonald and her longtime status as a prime minister-in-waiting. Their fall from public favor has left Sinn Féin activists stunned, demoralized and speculating over whether the party needs a new leader in time for a general election that must happen by March.” Politico.eu

UPDATE 1: Uncoupled doubleness

” … The modern Sinn Féin on the one hand drew on the same kind of ethnonationalist identity politics that now fuel the far right across Europe, the United States and elsewhere. Yet on the other, it thought of itself as a progressive socialist party, committed to equality and inclusion. … This doubleness created a kind of ambivalence that was very useful in a society experiencing a very rapid transition from monoculture to multiculture. … And for about a quarter of a century, this accidental mechanism was extremely effective. … What we’ve now seen in the election numbers are the first effects of (an) uncoupling: a shrinking of Sinn Féin’s vote and the emergence of the far right as a potentially viable political force.” — Fintan O’Toole in the Irish Times.

ORIGINAL POST:

June 7 local and European Union election results in the Republic of Ireland have prompted fresh calls for a national government contest before the March 2025 deadline. Taoiseach Simon Harris has doubled down on his earlier commitment to have the existing coalition government run its full five-year course until spring. Harris, of Fine Gael, became the Irish leader in early April after the unexpected resignation of Leo Varadkar.

Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, the main coalition partners, have done better than expected in the local elections, each polling about 23 percent. Independent and small party candidate surged to just over 28 percent of the vote at the expense of Sinn Féin, which fell shy of 12 percent. As of early June 10, U.S. East Coast time, 829 of 849 city and county council seats had been decided.

The outcome in Ireland’s 14 European Parliament races is still developing. Far-right candidates in other E.U. member nations have made gains, but the centrist governing coalition in Brussels is expected to hold.

Regardless of what Harris says, Irish political observers expect snap election will take place before the year-end holidays. Why should Ireland miss the “year of elections,” as at least 64 countries (plus the E.U. assembly) decide the representation of about half the world’s population. French President Emmanuel Macron Sunday was forced to call an election for later this month after his centrist alliance was roughed up by the right in his country’s E.U. ballot.

Sixty-two percent of respondents to an online poll at TheJournal.ie website favored holding the Irish national election before the end of this year. Disclosure: I participated in the poll on June 9 in order to see the result and take the screen grab shown here.

Regardless of when the election is scheduled in the next nine months, voters in the Republic will follow the electorate in Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom. The national election there is set for July 4, with the Tory government predicted to fall to the British Labor Party.

A total of 136 candidates are running in Northern Ireland, nearly three dozen more than the last election five years ago. The more moderate Alliance and the Social Democrat and Labor Party (SDLP) are contesting all 18 constituencies, while the pro-reunification Sinn Féin and Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) are each skipping a few races, according to the BBC.

The DUP were knocked off stride in March, when leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson resigned after being charged with sex crimes. He is not seeking re-election in his Lagan Valley constituency. The DUP had already lost top billing to Sinn Féin in the power-sharing Northern Ireland Assembly.

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