Irish general election, 2007


Irish general election, 2007

Infobox Election
election_name Irish general election, 2007
country = Ireland
type = parliamentary
ongoing = no
previous_election = Irish general election, 2002
previous_year = 2002
previous_mps = Members of the 29th Dáil
next_election = Next Irish general election
next_year = Next
next_mps = Members of the 31st Dáil
seats_for_election = 165 Seats in Dáil Éireann
election_date = 24 May 2007



leader1 = Bertie Ahern
leader_since1 = 1994
party1 = Fianna Fáil
leaders_seat1 = Dublin Central
last_election1 = 81, 41.5%
seats1 = 77
seat_change1 = -4
popular_vote1 = 859,300
percentage1 = 41.6%
swing1 = +0.1%



leader2 = Enda Kenny
leader_since2 = 2002
party2 = Fine Gael
leaders_seat2 = Mayo
last_election2 = 31, 22.5%
seats2 = 51
seat_change2 = +20
popular_vote2 = 563,900
percentage2 = 27.3
swing2 = +4.8%



leader3 = Pat Rabbitte
leader_since3 = 2002
party3 = Labour Party (Ireland)
leaders_seat3 = Dublin South West
last_election3 = 20, 10.8%
seats3 = 20
seat_change3 = +0
popular_vote3 = 208,600
percentage3 = 10.1%
swing3 = -0.7%
title = Taoiseach
before_election = Bertie Ahern
before_party = Fianna Fáil
after_election = Bertie Ahern
after_party = Fianna Fáil
The Irish general election of 2007 took place on 24 May 2007 after the dissolution of the 29th Dáil by the President on 29 April 2007, at the request of the Taoiseach. The electorate was given the task of choosing the members of the 30th Dáil who met on 14 June 2007 to nominate a Taoiseach and ratify the ministers of the Government of the 30th Dáil. While Fine Gael gained 20 seats, Fianna Fáil remained the largest party. The election was considered a success for Fianna Fáil; however, Fianna Fáil's junior coalition partners in the 29th Dáil, the Progressive Democrats, lost six of their eight seats.

On 12 June 2007, Fianna Fáil and the Green Party reached agreement on a draft Programme for Government, this was subsequently ratified by the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party and Green Party members on 13 June 2007. This resulted in the formation of a coalition government on 14 June 2007 between Fianna Fáil, the Green Party and the Progressive Democrats. The government is also supported by four Independent TDs. [ [http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/frontpage/2007/0614/1181770989029.html Greens and PDs to make Ahern Taoiseach again] – "Irish Times newspaper article, 14 June 2007."]

Election date & system

On 29 April 2007, President Mary McAleese dissolved the 29th Dáil on the request of the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern. The election date was officially set as 24 May 2007; the 30th Dáil would convene on 14 June 2007 at which stage the Taoiseach would be nominated and the rest of the Government approved for appointment by the President. Official campaigning began as soon as the announcement had been made.

Current statute requires that the Dáil be dissolved within five years after its first meeting (6 June 2002) following the previous election and the election must take place not later than thirty days after the dissolution. [Article 16.5 of the Constitution of Ireland states that the Dáil may sit for a period of up to seven years from its first meeting. It also allows a shorter period to be fixed by law; this is currently fixed at five years.]

The Taoiseach extended the life of the 29th Dáil close to a full five years. After the 2002 general election he commented that his prior confirmation of this policy had caused problems in the last year of his government. [ [http://www.ireland.com/focus/election_2002/news/2002/0605/news9.htm Ahern likely to make major Cabinet changes] ] There was speculation in 2005 that he might have moved to dissolve parliament early in order to catch the opposition off guard, although this did not transpire.

In 2005, in anticipation of the election date, the parties began candidate selections and from mid-2005 some TDs announced their retirement plans.

A statement by Minister for Children Brian Lenihan in November 2006 suggested that the election would take place in May 2007, as was the case. [ [http://www.rte.ie/news/2006/1119/children.html Referendum to come before election: Lenihan] – RTÉ News report, 19 November 2006.] In December 2006, Bertie Ahern stated unambiguously that the election would take place in summer 2007. [http://www.rte.ie/news/2006/1221/ahernb.html Taoiseach says election set for summer] – RTÉ News report, 21 December 2006.]

There was some controversy [ [http://scripts.ireland.com/newspaper/breaking/regularvote.cfm?pollid=2576 Should the election be held on Friday?] – "Irish Times"] over which day of the week the election should have been held on, as some opposition parties insisted that a weekend polling day would have made it easier for those studying or working away from home to vote. Ireland's voter registration process presents difficulties for people who live at a second address for part of the week. Previous elections and referendums have been held on Thursdays, Fridays and (in one case) a Wednesday. For the 2007 election, polling day was a Thursday.

The Taoiseach denied that the election was called on Sunday, 29 April 2007 to prevent the Mahon Tribunal recommencing investigations the following day concerning alleged payments to politicians (including Mr. Ahern). Because of the election campaign, the Mahon Tribunal suspended its public hearings on Monday, 30 April 2007 and resumed them four days after the general election on 28 May 2007. [ [http://www.rte.ie/news/2007/0430/mahon.html Ahern denies 'prior knowledge'] – RTÉ News report, 30 April 2007.]

The closing time and date for nominations was 12:00 Irish Summer Time on Wednesday, 9 May 2007. A list of candidates for the 2007 election is available through this link [http://www.electionsireland.org/results/general/30thdail/candidates.cfm] .

Polls were open from 07:30 until 22:30 IST. The system of voting was Proportional Representation with a Single Transferable Vote, also known as PR-STV [ [http://www.citizensinformation.ie/categories/government-in-ireland/elections-and-referenda/voting/proportional_representation Proportional Representation] - Information from the Irish Citizens Information Board] . The general election took place in 43 parliamentary constituencies throughout Ireland for 165 of the 166 Dáil Éireann seats (the "Ceann Comhairle" is automatically re-elected). [Article 16.6 of the constitution requires that "provision shall be made by law" such that the Ceann Comhairle "be deemed without any actual election to be elected a member of Dáil Éireann". The current law making such provision is the Electoral Act, 1992.]

Campaign

As a result of falling opinion poll ratings for the outgoing government in the months approaching the start of the campaign, the election was one of the more closely fought in decades, with the outcome being very uncertain.

This election was fought as a contest for Taoiseach between the outgoing Fianna FáilProgressive Democrats coalition and the "Alliance for Change"; a proposed Fine GaelLabour Party coalition. Opinion polls did not show either option as being certain, and other possibilities include Fianna Fáil-led coalition with other parties, or Fine Gael and the Labour Party with the Green Party. Fine Gael and the Labour Party had an agreed transfer pact. The Green Party was non-aligned but made statements favouring a change from the outgoing Government. All parties claimed that they would not include Sinn Féin in a new Government.

Due to the run-up of the Dáil to the maximum allowable life-span, it was clear to all parties that the election would be held early summer 2007 and all parties held "conferences" during the spring to announce policies. At this time Fine Gael launched a "Contract for a Better Ireland" which was a centrepiece of their campaign. The early conferences led to the campaign being described as one of the longest in recent times. The campaign officially kicked off on the dissolution of the Dáil and the manner of this dissolution, done early on a Sunday morning, led to speculation about the reason for this during the first week of the campaign. The leaking and publication just before the election was called, of evidence about personal finance transactions in December 1994 given to the Mahon Tribunal by the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern led to the first two weeks of the campaign being dominated by questions about his fitness to serve as Taoiseach, and required the Progressive Democrats to decide if they would pull out of Government before the election was held, but they decided to remain. The Tribunal itself decided to postpone sittings during the campaign.

Following a statement by the Taoiseach, the remainder of the campaign concentrated on the traditional issues of health, education, crime and the economy, with debate centring on the ability of the various parties to deliver on the various totals of hospital beds, Gardaí and pupil-teacher ratios they were promising. Prime Time hosted a debate among the potential candidates for Tánaiste and a separate debate between Ahern and Enda Kenny coverage of which concentrated on Kenny's ability to serve as Taoiseach given his lack of experience. Fianna Fáil Ministers Dick Roche and Martin Cullen were given little exposure on the national media during the campaign, but Finance minister Brian Cowen engaged in some robust exchanges towards the end of the campaign was reported to have been an asset to the party.

Opinion polls during the early stages of the campaign showed the Alliance for Change gaining on the Government and the likelihood of Kenny becoming Taoiseach increased, with some commentators predicting that Fianna Fáil would return with only 65 seats. In the last week of the campaign, following the leaders debate, an Irish Times/MRBI poll showed a recovery for Fianna Fáil to 41% which was replicated on polling day.

Constituency changes

"See Parliamentary constituencies in the Republic of Ireland" and "Electoral (Amendment) Act 2005" for full details of the constituencies for the 30th Dáil.
* Meath (5) was replaced by Meath East (3) and Meath West (3)
* Westmeath (3), Longford-Roscommon (4) and Sligo-Leitrim (4) were replaced by Longford-Westmeath (4), Roscommon-South Leitrim (3) and Sligo-North Leitrim (3)
* Cork North Central (from 5 to 4)
* Dublin North Central (from 4 to 3)
* Dublin Mid West (from 3 to 4)
* Kildare North (from 3 to 4)

The preliminary findings from the 2006 Census of Population disclosed that the population of Dublin West, Dublin North and Meath East could have prompted further revisions. [ [http://www.cso.ie/census/documents/2006PreliminaryReport.pdf Preliminary Census report 2006] ] The advice of the Attorney-General was sought by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage & Local Government. It was decided to make no further constituency revisions before the election. Two outgoing deputies, however, challenged this decision in the High Court. The election went ahead while the parties awaited the High Court's reserved judgment in this action. [http://www.mcgarrsolicitors.ie/category/high-court]

Overview

The general election result was significant for a number of reasons:
*The election was considered a success for Fianna Fáil. It returned with a total of 78 seats, three fewer than it won at the previous general election, despite predictions earlier in the campaign that it could lose more than 20 seats [http://www.independent.ie/national-news/ff-in-a-nosedive-670055.html] .
*A resurgence in Fine Gael support, which saw the main opposition party increase from 32 to 51 seats.
*A sharp drop in support for the Progressive Democrats, which saw their seats drop from 8 to 2, including the loss of party leader, Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform Michael McDowell.
*The failure of the Labour Party to increase its seat total and had a net loss of 1 seat.
*The failure of the smaller opposition parties to increase their support:
** The Green Party returned with the same number of seats (6), one gain was offset by another loss.
**Sinn Féin lost one seat to return 4 TDs, despite predictions of gains due to the return of the power sharing executive in Northern Ireland.
**Joe Higgins, the leader and sole TD of the Socialist Party lost his seat, leaving them with no Dáil representation.
*The reduction in the number of independent (non-party) TDs to 5 from 14 in the previous general election.

The 2007 election results saw Fine Gael win seats at the expense of the smaller parties and independents. The proportion of votes only increased significantly for Fine Gael, and increased slightly for both the Green Party and Sinn Féin, despite their disappointing seat totals. Negotiations began the following week for the formation of the new government, with Bertie Ahern stating that his preferred option was for a coalition of Fianna Fáil, the Progressive Democrats and like-minded independents. The Fine Gael leader, Enda Kenny, did not rule out forming an alternative government, stating that he would talk to all parties except Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin. [ [http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/frontpage/2007/0528/1180134002580.html Ahern's preferred option is PD deal plus Independents] – "Irish Times" newspaper article, 28 May 2007] The election for Taoiseach took place in the Dáil on 14 June 2007 with Bertie Ahern becoming Taoiseach again.

Result

The Fathers Rights-Responsibility Party, Immigration Control Platform and Irish Socialist Network were not registered as political parties, so their candidates appeared on ballot papers as "Non-Party". The People Before Profit Alliance registered as a political party after the deadline for their party name to appear on ballot papers, so their candidates also appeared as "Non-Party". [" [http://www.ireland.com/focus/election2007/features/features19.html Small groups seek to end large parties' dominance] ", "Irish Times"]

Turnout

The total Irish electorate registered as eligible to vote as of 24 February 2007 was 3,110,914. [ [http://www.oireachtas.ie/documents/publications/Electoral_Handbook1.pdf Oireachtas Electoral Handbook, p. 58] – Oireachtas Éireann] As 2,085,245 first preference votes were cast in the general election this equates to a voter turnout of 67.03%.

Dáil membership changes

The following changes took place as a result of the election:
* 19 outgoing TDs retired.
* 146 outgoing TDs stood for re-election (plus Rory O'Hanlon - the Ceann Comhairle who was automatically returned).
** 116 of those were re-elected.
** 30 failed to be re-elected.
* 49 successor TDs were elected.
** 38 were elected for the first time.
** 11 had previously been TDs (* in the list below).
** 14 were members of the outgoing Senate († in the list below).
* There were 8 successor female TDs, decreasing the total by 1 to 22.

Outgoing TDs are listed in the constituency they represented in the outgoing Dáil. For Batt O'Keeffe and possibly others, this differs from the constituency they contested in the election. O'Keeffe, who was elected in his largely new constituency of Cork North West, is listed both as a departing TD from his old constituency of Cork South Central and a successor TD from Cork North West. Where more than one change took place in a constituency the concept of successor is an approximation for presentation only.

ee also

* Members of the 30th Dáil
* Government of the 30th Dáil
* Ministers of State of the 30th Dáil
* Members of the 23rd Seanad

External links

* [http://www.osce.org/item/24038.html OSCE/ODIHR Needs Assessment Mission Report ahead of parliamentary elections in Ireland]
* [http://electionsireland.org/results/general/30dail.cfm List of general election candidates]
* [http://www.irishpoliticians.com Candidates by constituency, party and gender]
* [http://www.rte.ie/news/elections2007/index.html RTÉ – Election 2007]
* [http://www.rte.ie/news/2007/0525/election1.html RTÉ – Exit Poll]
* [http://www.politicalcompass.org/ireland Suggested political compass position of the Irish parties 2007]
* [http://www.thehist.com/index.php?option=com_docman&task=cat_view&gid=106&Itemid=525&limit=5&limitstart=0&order=date&dir=ASC Recordings] of College Historical Society debate featuring Michael McDowell, Mary Lou McDonald, Brian Lenihan, Jnr, Trevor Sargent and Eamon Gilmore
* [http://www.michaelpidgeon.com/manifestos/ge.html Collection of party manifestos from 2007 on IrishManifestos.co.nr]

References


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