2007 Irish general election

The 2007 Irish general election took place on Thursday, 24 May after the dissolution of the 29th Dáil by the President on 30 April, at the request of the Taoiseach. The general election took place in 43 parliamentary constituencies throughout Ireland for 166 seats in Dáil Éireann, the lower house of parliament, with a revision of constituencies since the last election under the Electoral (Amendment) Act 2005.

2007 Irish general election

← 2002 24 May 2007 2011 →

166 seats in Dáil Éireann[a]
84 seats needed for a majority
Turnout67.0% Increase 4.4pp
  First party Second party Third party
Bertie Ahern 2006 (cropped 2).jpg
Enda Kenny 2009.jpg
Pat Rabbitte, January 2007 (cropped).jpg
Leader Bertie Ahern Enda Kenny Pat Rabbitte
Party Fianna Fáil Fine Gael Labour
Leader since 19 December 1994 2 June 2002 25 October 2002
Leader's seat Dublin Central Mayo Dublin South-West
Last election 81 seats, 41.5% 31 seats, 22.5% 20 seats, 10.8%
Seats before 78 32 21
Seats won 78[a] 51 20
Seat change Decrease 3 Increase 20 Steady 0
Popular vote 858,565 564,428 209,175
Percentage 41.6% 27.3% 10.1%
Swing Increase 0.1% Increase 4.8% Decrease 0.7%

  Fourth party Fifth party Sixth party
Trevor Sargent 2006 headshot.jpg
Gerry Adams, October 2005 (cropped).jpg
Michael McDowell, June 2004 (cropped).jpg
Leader Trevor Sargent Gerry Adams Michael McDowell
Party Green Sinn Féin Progressive Democrats
Leader since 6 October 2001 13 November 1983 11 September 2006
Leader's seat Dublin North N/A[b] Dublin South-East
Last election 6 seats, 3.8% 5 seats, 6.5% 8 seats, 4.0%
Seats before 6 5 8
Seats won 6 4 2
Seat change Steady 0 Decrease 1 Decrease 6
Popular vote 96,936 143,410 56,396
Percentage 4.7% 6.9% 2.7%
Swing Increase 0.9% Increase 0.4% Decrease 1.3%

Taoiseach before election

Bertie Ahern
Fianna Fáil

Taoiseach after election

Bertie Ahern
Fianna Fáil

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.

The 30th Dáil met on 14 June to nominate a Taoiseach and ratify the ministers of the new 27th Government of Ireland. It was a coalition government of Fianna Fáil, the Green Party and the Progressive Democrats initially supported by four Independent TDs. It was the first time the Green Party entered government.

Election date and system edit

On 30 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.[c] The Taoiseach allowed the 29th Dáil to near the completion of its five-year term before seeking a dissolution. After the 2002 general election he commented that his prior confirmation of this policy had caused problems in the last year of his government. There was speculation in 2005 that he might have moved to dissolve parliament early 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 members of the 29th Dáil announced their retirement plans.

A statement by Minister of State for Children Brian Lenihan in November 2006 suggested that the election would take place in May 2007, which would be the case.[3] In December 2006, Bertie Ahern stated unambiguously that the election would take place in summer 2007.[4]

There was some controversy[5] 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 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.[6]

The closing time and date for nominations was 12:00 Irish Summer Time on Wednesday 9 May 2007.

Polls were open from 07:30 until 22:30 IST. The system of voting was proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote (PR-STV).[7] 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).[d]

Campaign edit

Election posters in Dublin South-East during the 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, with the exception of the Green Party, 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 began at the dissolution of the Dáil. This dissolution was done early on a Sunday morning, and there was much 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. Finance minister Brian Cowen engaged in some robust exchanges towards the end of the campaign which 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 edit

See Electoral (Amendment) Act 2005 for full details of the constituencies for the 30th Dáil.

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.[8] The advice of the Attorney-General was sought by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and 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.[9]

Overview edit

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.[10]
  • A resurgence in Fine Gael support, which saw the main opposition party increase its holding 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, who immediately retired from politics.[11]
  • The failure of the Labour Party to increase its seat total; it had a net loss of one 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 the party 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 and Leader of the Opposition, Enda Kenny, did not rule out forming an alternative government, stating that he would talk to all parties except Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin.[12] The election for Taoiseach took place in the Dáil on 14 June 2007 with Bertie Ahern becoming Taoiseach again.

Results edit

Party Fianna Fáil Fine Gael Labour Party Green Party Sinn Féin Progressive Democrats
Leader Bertie Ahern Enda Kenny Pat Rabbitte Trevor Sargent Gerry Adams Michael McDowell
Votes 41.56%, 858,565 27.32%, 564,428 10.13%, 209,175 4.69%, 96,936 6.94%, 143,410 2.73%, 56,396
Seats 78 (47.0%) 51 (30.9%) 20 (12.1%) 6 (3.6%) 4 (2.4%) 2 (1.2%)
78 6 2 5 51 20 4
Fianna Fáil Green PDs Others Fine Gael Labour Party SF

Vote Share of different parties in the election.

  Fianna Fáil (41.6%)
  Fine Gael (27.3%)
  Labour Party (10.1%)
  Sinn Féin (6.9%)
  Green Party (4.7%)
  Other (6.7%)
Election to the 30th Dáil – 24 May 2007[13][14]
Party Leader Seats ± % of
First pref.
% FPv ±%
Fianna Fáil Bertie Ahern 78[a]  4 47.0 858,565 41.56  0.1
Fine Gael Enda Kenny 51  20 30.9 564,428 27.32  4.8
Labour Pat Rabbitte 20   0 12.1 209,175 10.13  0.7
Green Trevor Sargent 6   0 3.6 96,936 4.69  0.9
Sinn Féin Gerry Adams 4  1 2.4 143,410 6.94  0.4
Progressive Democrats Michael McDowell 2  6 1.2 56,396 2.73  1.3
Socialist Party Joe Higgins 0  1 0 13,218 0.64  0.2
People Before Profit N/A 0 N/A 0 9,333 0.45 N/A
Workers' Party Seán Garland 0   0 0 3,026 0.15  <0.1
Christian Solidarity Cathal Loftus 0   0 0 1,705 0.08  0.2
Fathers Rights Liam Ó Gógáin 0 N/A 0 1,355 0.07 N/A
Immigration Control Áine Ní Chonaill 0 N/A 0 1,329 0.06 N/A
Irish Socialist Network N/A 0 N/A 0 505 0.02 N/A
Independent N/A 5  8 3.0 106,429 5.15  3.8
Spoilt votes 19,435
Total 166 0 100 2,085,245 100
Electorate/Turnout 3,110,914 67.0%
  • 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".
  • People Before Profit registered as a political party after the deadline for its party name to appear on ballot papers, so its candidates also appeared as "Non-Party".[15]

Voting summary edit

First preference vote
Fianna Fáil
Fine Gael
Sinn Féin
Progressive Democrats

Seats summary edit

Dáil seats
Fianna Fáil
Fine Gael
Sinn Féin
Progressive Democrats

Turnout edit

The electorate eligible to vote as of 24 February 2007 was 3,110,914.[16] As 2,085,245 first preference votes and invalid votes were cast, this equates to a voter turnout of 67.03%.

Government formation edit

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 was initially supported by four Independent TDs.[17]

Fianna Fáil, Green Party and Progressive Democrats formed the 27th Government of Ireland, a majority coalition government, led by Bertie Ahern as Taoiseach. Ahern would resign the following year, succeeded by Brian Cowen, who formed the 28th Government of Ireland with the same party composition. The Progressive Democrats dissolved in 2009.

Dáil membership changes edit

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
  • There were 8 successor female TDs, decreasing the total by 1 to 22
  • There were changes in 36 of the 43 constituencies contested

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.

Constituency Departing TD Party Change Comment Successor TD Party
Carlow–Kilkenny Liam Aylward Fianna Fáil Retired Elected as an MEP Bobby Aylward Fianna Fáil
Séamus Pattison[18] Labour Party Retired Mary White Green Party
Cavan–Monaghan Paudge Connolly Independent Lost seat Margaret Conlon Fianna Fáil
Clare James Breen Independent Lost seat Joe Carey Fine Gael
Síle de Valera[19] Fianna Fáil Retired Timmy Dooley Fianna Fáil
Cork East Joe Sherlock[18] Labour Party Retired Seán Sherlock Labour Party
Cork North-Central Dan Wallace Fianna Fáil Retired Seat eliminated
Cork North-West Donal Moynihan Fianna Fáil Lost seat Batt O'Keeffe Fianna Fáil
Gerard Murphy Fine Gael Lost seat *Michael Creed Fine Gael
Cork South-Central Dan Boyle Green Party Lost seat Ciarán Lynch Labour Party
John Dennehy Fianna Fáil Lost seat *Deirdre Clune Fine Gael
Batt O'Keeffe Fianna Fáil Moved Ran instead in Cork NW Michael McGrath Fianna Fáil
Cork South-West Denis O'Donovan Fianna Fáil Lost seat *P. J. Sheehan Fine Gael
Joe Walsh Fianna Fáil Retired Christy O'Sullivan Fianna Fáil
Donegal North-East Cecilia Keaveney Fianna Fáil Lost seat Joe McHugh Fine Gael
Donegal South-West No membership changes
Dublin Central Dermot Fitzpatrick Fianna Fáil Retired Cyprian Brady Fianna Fáil
Dublin Mid-West Seat added Joanna Tuffy Labour Party
Dublin North Jim Glennon[20] Fianna Fáil Retired Michael Kennedy Fianna Fáil
Seán Ryan[18] Labour Party Retired James Reilly Fine Gael
G. V. Wright[21] Fianna Fáil Retired Darragh O'Brien Fianna Fáil
Dublin North-Central Ivor Callely Fianna Fáil Lost seat Seat eliminated
Dublin North-East Martin Brady Fianna Fáil Lost seat Terence Flanagan Fine Gael
Dublin North-West No membership changes
Dublin South Liz O'Donnell Progressive Democrats Lost seat *Alan Shatter Fine Gael
Dublin South-Central Gay Mitchell[22] Fine Gael Retired Elected as an MEP Catherine Byrne Fine Gael
Dublin South-East Michael McDowell Progressive Democrats Lost seat Lucinda Creighton Fine Gael
Eoin Ryan Fianna Fáil Retired Elected as an MEP Chris Andrews Fianna Fáil
Dublin South-West Seán Crowe Sinn Féin Lost seat *†Brian Hayes Fine Gael
Dublin West Joe Higgins Socialist Party Lost seat Leo Varadkar Fine Gael
Dún Laoghaire Fiona O'Malley Progressive Democrats Lost seat *Seán Barrett Fine Gael
Galway East Joe Callanan Fianna Fáil Lost seat *†Michael Kitt Fianna Fáil
Paddy McHugh Independent Lost seat *†Ulick Burke Fine Gael
Galway West No membership changes
Kerry North No membership changes
Kerry South Breeda Moynihan-Cronin Labour Party Lost seat Tom Sheahan Fine Gael
Kildare North Catherine Murphy Independent Lost seat Áine Brady Fianna Fáil
Seat added Michael Fitzpatrick Fianna Fáil
Kildare South No membership changes
Laois–Offaly Tom Parlon Progressive Democrats Lost seat *Charles Flanagan Fine Gael
Limerick East Tim O'Malley Progressive Democrats Lost seat Kieran O'Donnell Fine Gael
Limerick West Michael Collins Fianna Fáil Retired Niall Collins Fianna Fáil
Longford–Westmeath Donie Cassidy Fianna Fáil Lost seat *†Mary O'Rourke Fianna Fáil
Paul McGrath Fine Gael Retired James Bannon Fine Gael
Mae Sexton Progressive Democrats Lost seat Seat eliminated
Louth No membership changes
Mayo John Carty Fianna Fáil Lost seat Dara Calleary Fianna Fáil
Jerry Cowley Independent Lost seat John O'Mahony Fine Gael
Meath East Seat added Thomas Byrne Fianna Fáil
Meath West No membership changes
Roscommon–South Leitrim John Ellis Fianna Fáil Lost seat Frank Feighan Fine Gael
Sligo–North Leitrim Marian Harkin Independent Retired Elected as an MEP Eamon Scanlon Fianna Fáil
Tipperary North Michael Smith Fianna Fáil Lost seat Noel Coonan Fine Gael
Tipperary South Noel Davern[23] Fianna Fáil Retired Mattie McGrath Fianna Fáil
Séamus Healy Independent Lost seat Martin Mansergh Fianna Fáil
Waterford Ollie Wilkinson Fianna Fáil Lost seat *†Brendan Kenneally Fianna Fáil
Wexford Tony Dempsey Fianna Fáil Retired Seán Connick Fianna Fáil
Liam Twomey Fine Gael Lost seat Michael W. D'Arcy Fine Gael
Wicklow Mildred Fox[22] Independent Retired Andrew Doyle Fine Gael
Joe Jacob[24] Fianna Fáil Retired Joe Behan Fianna Fáil

See also edit

Notes edit

  1. ^ a b c Including Rory O'Hanlon (FF), returned automatically for Cavan–Monaghan as outgoing Ceann Comhairle, under Art. 16.6 of the Constitution and the Electoral Act 1992.[1][2]
  2. ^ Adams sat as the abstentionist MP for Belfast West in the UK Parliament; Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin (TD for Cavan-Monaghan) was leader of the party in the Dáil.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ 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.

References edit

  1. ^ Electoral Act 1980, s. 36: Re-election of outgoing Chairman of Dáil (No. 23 of 1980, s. 36). Enacted on 23 December 1980. Act of the Oireachtas. Retrieved from Irish Statute Book.
  2. ^ "Cavan–Monaghan: 2007 general election". Irish Elections. Retrieved 16 August 2022.
  3. ^ "Referendum to come before election: Lenihan". RTÉ News. 19 November 2006. Archived from the original on 3 February 2007. Retrieved 20 November 2006.
  4. ^ "Taoiseach says election set for summer". RTÉ News. 21 December 2006. Archived from the original on 24 February 2007. Retrieved 21 December 2006.
  5. ^ "Should general elections be held at weekends?". The Irish Times. 2007.
  6. ^ "Ahern denies 'prior knowledge'". RTÉ News. 30 April 2007. Archived from the original on 2 May 2007. Retrieved 1 May 2007.
  7. ^ "Proportional Representation". Irish Citizens Information Board. Archived from the original on 1 December 2008. Retrieved 29 May 2007.
  8. ^ "Preliminary Census report 2006" (PDF). Central Statistics Office. July 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 March 2009.
  9. ^ "Constituencies Constitutional Challenge". McGarr Solicitors. 7 June 2007. Archived from the original on 10 December 2007. Retrieved 5 April 2009.
  10. ^ Sheahan, Fionnan (15 May 2007). "FF in a nosedive". Irish Independent. Archived from the original on 7 June 2007. Retrieved 29 May 2007.
  11. ^ Kennedy, Edel (26 May 2007). "McDowell loses and quits politics". Irish Independent. Archived from the original on 22 February 2016. Retrieved 13 February 2016.
  12. ^ "Ahern's preferred option is PD deal plus Independents". The Irish Times. 28 May 2007. Archived from the original on 9 October 2012. Retrieved 7 March 2009.
  13. ^ "2007 Results". Irelandelection,com. Archived from the original on 10 June 2020. Retrieved 21 January 2020.
  14. ^ "30th Dáil general election May, 2007 – Election Results and Transfer of Votes" (PDF). Houses of the Oireachtas. Archived (PDF) from the original on 29 October 2008. Retrieved 16 August 2022.
  15. ^ "Small groups seek to end large parties' dominance". The Irish Times. 19 May 2007. Archived from the original on 26 October 2010. Retrieved 13 September 2010.
  16. ^ "Oireachtas Electoral Handbook, p. 58" (PDF). Oireachtas Éireann. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 October 2008. Retrieved 20 September 2008.
  17. ^ "Greens and PDs to make Ahern Taoiseach again". The Irish Times. 14 June 2007. Archived from the original on 9 October 2012. Retrieved 7 March 2009.
  18. ^ a b c "Country's longest serving TD to retire from politics". Irish Independent. 22 September 2005. Archived from the original on 2 October 2015.
  19. ^ "Sile de Valera to step down as Minister for State today". Irish Independent. 8 December 2006. Archived from the original on 9 March 2007.
  20. ^ "Setback for FF as Glennon quits Dáil". Irish Independent. 16 October 2006. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016.
  21. ^ "Glennon poll boost as GV Wright opts out of next election". Irish Independent. 17 January 2006. Archived from the original on 9 March 2007.
  22. ^ a b "Fox & Mitchell not standing in election". RTÉ News. 24 November 2006. Archived from the original on 29 March 2012. Retrieved 24 November 2006.
  23. ^ "The four who could scupper Bertie's date with destiny". Irish Independent. 7 January 2006. Archived from the original on 9 March 2007.
  24. ^ "Fine Gael and Independent TDs opt out of running in next election". Irish Independent. 25 November 2006. Archived from the original on 9 March 2007.

External links edit

  • "Election 2007" (PDF). Spotlight (3). Oireachtas Library & Research Service. 2007.

Further reading edit