The Republic of Ireland holds a general election Saturday, Feb. 8. Voters will decide 159 seats in the Dáil Éireann, or parliament, including a leader of the government, the taoiseach, or prime minister. Leo Varadkar, the leader since 2017, is seeking reelection. Members are elected by single transferable vote (STV) system from 39 constituencies, each returning from three to five members. … Major issues include how to handle the post-Brexit border with Northern Ireland and trade relations with Britain. Domestic issues include health care and housing shortages. … Below, I’m posting a selection of coverage up to election day, with the most recent stories at the top. I’ll publish a new post once the outcome is clear.
The weekly countdown is now closed. MH
Saturday, Feb. 8:
Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. local time. About 3.5 million people are eligible to vote at 6,500 polling stations in 39 constituencies. Heavy rain and gusting winds are expected across the island, especially in the west.
Friday, Feb. 7:
- 3 things to know about Ireland’s elections Saturday, from Vox: Ireland’s election results could be very messy, as no one party is likely to win outright, which means they’ll all need other parties to form a government.
- For the Irish, Varadkar May Have Won Brexit, but He Lost the War at Home, from The New York Times: Varadkar, 41, is facing every politician’s curse of being a status quo figure in a change election.
Thursday, Feb. 6:
- How the 2020 election echoes 1932, from Irish Times reporter Ronan McCreevy: History repeats election with government in power for decade accused of being out-of-touch.
- Ireland Goes to the Polls on Saturday. Here’s Why the Stakes Are So High, from Time: More than Brexit, Irish voters appear more concerned with a health care crisis and a severe housing shortage that have both worsened during Fine Gael’s nine years in government.
Wednesday, Feb. 5:
- Leaders debate fact-check on housing, hospital beds, multinationals, and pensions, from The Irish Independent: Micheal Martin, Leo Varadkar, and Mary Lou McDonald battled it out on RTÉ.
Ireland may be about to see a historic election upset, from The Washington Post: Irish politics are difficult for outsiders to understand because the differences between parties often have less to do with the division between left and right than with historic splits.
Tuesday, Feb. 4:
- Six graphs to help you understand Election 2020, from The Irish Times: Visual representations of Ireland’s changing electorate.
- Sinn Féin leads way in Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll with highest support ever, from The Irish Times: The findings of the poll, which was taken on Thursday, Friday and Saturday of last week, will shock the Government party and suggest that Ireland is on the brink of an historic general election result on Saturday.
- Tipperary vote postponed after death of candidate, from the BBC: Irish legislation dating back to 1922 states that, in the event of the death of a candidate after the final day for nominations, nominations have to reopen again.
Monday, Feb. 3:
- RTÉ to invite McDonald to leaders’ TV debate, from The Irish Time: Ireland’s national broadcaster has reversed its position and invited Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald to participate in the Feb. 4 final leaders’ TV debate of the general election campaign.
- Why Sinn Féin is surging in the Irish election, from Politico Europe: Once considered a political pariah, Ireland’s left-wing Sinn Féin party is threatening to overtake Prime Minister Leo Varadkar’s Fine Gael.
- We want united Ireland, say four in five voters, from The Times: The publication found more than 40 percent of polled voters want reunification within the next decade; 19 percent want unity by 2040.
Sunday, Feb. 2:
- Sinn Fein draw level atop opinion poll days from Irish election, from Reuters: Irish nationalists Sinn Fein surged ahead of the governing Fine Gael party to draw level at the top of an opinion poll a week before an election that looks set to be a major breakthrough for the former political wing of the Irish Republican Army.
- Varadkar warns Irish instability could impact EU trade deal, from the BBC: “The prime minister will use a Feb. 3 speech to toughen his stance ahead of trade talks following the UK’s formal withdrawal from the bloc.”
- Irish writers on Election 2020, from The Irish Times: Eleven Irish authors assess the outgoing government and what the next one needs to do.
- Meet the Healy-Raes: the rural Irish populists who have never lost an election, from The Guardian: “The more Dublin snickers, it seems, the better for the Healy-Raes, who alchemise metropolitan disdain into votes at home.”