Irish general election, 1973

Irish general election, 1973

The Irish general election of 1973 was held on 28 February 1973. The newly elected 144 members of the 20th Dáil assembled at Leinster House on 4 March when the new Taoiseach and government were appointed.

The general election took place in 42 parliamentary constituencies throughout the Republic of Ireland for 144 seats in the lower house of parliament, Dáil Éireann.


By the time the general election was called in 1973, Fianna Fáil had been in power for almost sixteen consecutive years. During that period the party had seen three different leaders, Éamon de Valera, Seán Lemass and the current leader of the party, Jack Lynch. As a result of this, much of the electorate believed it was time for a change of government. Lynch had hoped to dissolve the Dáil in December 1972, however events conspired against him and the election was eventually called for February 1973.

While Fine Gael and the Labour Party had pursued their own opposition policies since 1957 they now realised that the only way to oust Fianna Fáil would be to join forces. Not long after the general election was called both parties agreed to a pre-election pact in order to fight the election together on the issues that united them. The National Coalition as it was known offered the electorate the first alternative credible government in many years.

While Fianna Fáil actually increased its percentage of the vote, it lost seats. The increase in the percentage was remarkable considering the party had been in power for so long, and also because of the "Arms Crisis". A clever use of transfers between the National Coalition parties in the
Single transferable vote system enabled a change of government to take place.

Coverage of the general election by the national broadcaster, Radio Telefís Éireann, also saw a unique event. Jack Lynch, in an interview with Brian Farrell on the programme, became the first Taoiseach to concede defeat live on Irish television. Although the full result was not known Lynch was certain that the transfers to other candidates would result in Fianna Fáil losing the general election.


First time TDs

The following 22 TDs were elected for the first time:
* Liam Ahern
* Joseph Bermingham
* Ruairí Brugha
* Ray Burke
* Johnny Callanan
* Seán Calleary
* Brendan Daly
* John Esmonde
* Joseph Farrell
* Denis Gallagher
* Brendan Griffin
* Patrick Hegarty
* John Kelly
* Jimmy Leonard
* Charles McDonald
* Ciarán Murphy
* Fergus O'Brien
* John Ryan
* Myles Staunton
* Seán Walsh
* James White
* John Wilson

Elected for the first time in subsequent by-elections:
* Máire Geoghegan-Quinn
* Enda Kenny
* Brendan Toal
* Michael Kitt
* Brendan Halligan
* Paddy Keaveney

Outgoing TDs

* Frank Aiken
* Michael Hilliard
* Micheál Ó Móráin
* John O'Donovan (Lost seat)

ee also

* Members of the 20th Dáil
* Government of the 20th Dáil
* Ministers of State of the 20th Dáil

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