1965 Irish general election

The 1965 Irish general election was held on Wednesday, 7 April. The newly elected members of the 18th Dáil assembled at Leinster House on 21 April when the new Taoiseach and government were appointed.

1965 Irish general election

← 1961 7 April 1965 1969 →

144 seats in Dáil Éireann[a]
73 seats needed for a majority
Turnout75.1% Increase 4.5pp
  First party Second party
James Dillon circa 1930s.jpg
Leader Seán Lemass James Dillon
Party Fianna Fáil Fine Gael
Leader since 22 June 1959 21 March 1959
Leader's seat Dublin South-Central Monaghan
Last election 70 seats, 43.8% 47 seats, 32.0%
Seats before 71 48
Seats won 72 47
Seat change Increase1 Decrease1
Percentage 47.7% 34.1%
Swing Increase3.9% Increase2.1%

  Third party Fourth party
Brendan Corish 1949.png
Seán MacBride circa 1947.jpg
Leader Brendan Corish Seán MacBride
Party Labour Clann na Poblachta
Leader since 2 March 1960 21 January 1946
Leader's seat Wexford N/A
Last election 16 seats, 11.6% 1 seat, 1.1%
Seats before 17 1
Seats won 22[a] 1
Seat change Increase5 Steady 0
Percentage 15.4% 0.8%
Swing Increase3.7% Decrease0.3%

Irish general election 1965.png
Percentage of seats gained by each of the three major parties, and number of seats gained by smaller parties and independents.

Taoiseach before election

Seán Lemass
Fianna Fáil

Taoiseach after election

Seán Lemass
Fianna Fáil

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


The general election of 1965 was caused by the ruling Fianna Fáil party's failure to gain a seat in a by-election. The success of Eileen Desmond of the Labour Party in Cork Mid in holding a seat previously held by her husband Dan Desmond, led to an unacceptable mathematical situation with regard to the government's majority. The Taoiseach, Seán Lemass immediately dissolved the Dáil and the campaign began in earnest.

Fianna Fáil ran its campaign on its record in government. Over the last number of years the economy had seen a huge improvement and the party played up on its record in government. The party also played up heavily on the personality of the party leader with the slogan "Let Lemass Lead On". Fine Gael put forward a comprehensive manifesto, which included the establishment of a government department concerned with economic planning. However, the older, conservative members of the party did not warm to the new turn the party was taking.

Television and radioEdit

This was the first Irish general election to be covered on television by state broadcaster RTÉ, which had formed on 31 December 1961. Election Newsroom was broadcast live on Telefís Éireann from their Donnybrook studios in Dublin, presented by John O'Donoghue with analysis provided by John Healy (The Irish Times), John O'Sullivan (The Cork Examiner), Garret FitzGerald and Professor Basil Chubb. Cameras were present in four count centres: Bolton Street (Dublin), Wexford, Cork and Monaghan. The GPO provided direct links as results were announced. Raidió Éireann provided special coverage from 3 pm on the day of the count due to the coverage on Telefís Éireann. It was a new approach to election coverage on the state's radio service, which began broadcasting in 1926.[3]


Election to the 18th Dáil – 7 April 1965[4][5][6][7]
Party Leader Seats ± % of
First pref.
% FPv ±%
Fianna Fáil Seán Lemass 72 +2 50.0 597,414 47.7 +3.9
Fine Gael James Dillon 47 0 32.6 427,081 34.1 +2.1
Labour Brendan Corish 22[a] +6 15.3 192,740 15.4 +3.8
Clann na Poblachta Seán MacBride[b] 1 0 0.7 9,427 0.8 –0.3
Irish Workers' Party Michael O'Riordan 0 0 0 183 0.0 0
Independent N/A 2 –4 1.4 26,277 2.1 –3.5
Spoilt votes 11,544
Total 144[a] 0 100 1,264,666 100
Electorate/Turnout 1,683,019 75.1%

Voting summaryEdit

First preference vote
Fianna Fáil
Fine Gael
Clann na Poblachta

Seats summaryEdit

Dáil seats
Fianna Fáil
Fine Gael
Clann na Poblachta

Government formation and aftermathEdit

Fianna Fáil formed the 11th Government of Ireland, a single-party government led by Seán Lemass as Taoiseach. Lemass had been in office since 1959.

James Dillon resigned as leader of Fine Gael immediately after the result was announced.

In November 1966, Lemass resigned as Fianna Fáil leader and Taoiseach, and was succeeded in both positions by Jack Lynch, who formed the 12th Government of Ireland.

Changes in membershipEdit

First time TDsEdit

Re-elected TDsEdit

Outgoing TDsEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d Including Patrick Hogan (Lab), returned automatically for Clare as outgoing Ceann Comhairle, under Art. 16.6 of the Constitution and the Electoral Act 1963.[1][2]
  2. ^ After the election, while Seán MacBride was leader of Clann na Poblachta, John Tully became leader and the sole member of the parliamentary party.


  1. ^ Electoral Act 1963, s. 14: Re-election of outgoing Ceann Comhairle (No. 19 of 1963, s. 14). Signed on 12 July 1963. Act of the Oireachtas. Irish Statute Book.
  2. ^ "18th Dáil 1965: Clare". ElectionsIreland.org. Retrieved 14 July 2022.
  3. ^ "RTÉ COVERAGE OF GENERAL ELECTIONS – 1965 GENERAL ELECTION". RTÉ Libraries and Archives. Archived from the original on 4 September 2011. Retrieved 20 September 2011.
  4. ^ "Election results and transfer of votes in general election (April, 1965) for eighteenth Dáil and bye-elections to seventeenth Dáil (1961–1965)" (PDF). Houses of the Oireachtas. Dublin Stationery Office. March 1966. Retrieved 17 July 2022.
  5. ^ "18th Dáil 1965 General Election". ElectionsIreland.org. Archived from the original on 30 November 2010. Retrieved 31 May 2009.
  6. ^ "Dáil elections since 1918". ARK Northern Ireland. Archived from the original on 27 November 2020. Retrieved 31 May 2009.
  7. ^ Nohlen, Dieter; Stöver, Philip (2010). Elections in Europe: A data handbook. pp. 1009–1017. ISBN 978-3-8329-5609-7.