The February 1982 Irish general election was held on Thursday, 18 February, three weeks after the dissolution of the Dáil on 27 January. The 23rd Dáil assembled at Leinster House on 9 March and a new Taoiseach and government were appointed.
166 seats in Dáil Éireann[a]
84 seats needed for a majority
Percentage of seats gained by each of the three major parties, and number of seats gained by smaller parties and independents.
The first general election of 1982 was caused by the sudden collapse of the Fine Gael–Labour Party coalition government when the budget was defeated. The Minister for Finance, John Bruton, attempted to put VAT on children's shoes. This measure was rejected by Jim Kemmy, a left-wing independent Teachta Dála, and Joe Sherlock of Sinn Féin the Workers' Party. The Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald immediately sought a dissolution of the Dáil. However, while he was with President Patrick Hillery at Áras an Uachtaráin, a number of Fianna Fáil members attempted to telephone the President, urging him not to grant a dissolution. If the President refused a dissolution, FitzGerald would have to resign and the Dáil would have an opportunity to nominate a new Taoiseach – with Haughey hoping to re-enter office. The attempt to contact the President was highly unconstitutional, as the President can only take advice from the Taoiseach. In the event, a dissolution was granted and the general election campaign began in earnest.
The campaign was largely fought on economic issues. Spending cuts were a reality for whatever party won, but the scale of the cuts were played down by all parties. Fine Gael proposed to continue the policies that it had been implementing while in office. The Fianna Fáil leader Charles Haughey dismissed the need for budget cuts when the campaign first began; however, the need for realism soon became apparent, and the party adopted similar policies that involved budget cuts.
|Election to the 23rd Dáil – 18 February 1982|
|Fianna Fáil||Charles Haughey||81||+3||48.8||786,951||47.3||+2.0|
|Fine Gael||Garret FitzGerald||63||–2||38.0||621,088||37.3||+0.8|
|Sinn Féin – The Workers' Party||Tomás Mac Giolla||3||+2||1.8||38,088||2.3||+0.6|
|Sinn Féin||Ruairí Ó Brádaigh||0||New||0||16,894||1.0||–|
|Irish Republican Socialist||0||New||0||2,716||0.2||–|
Independents include Independent Fianna Fáil (11,732 votes, 1 seat).
Fianna Fáil formed the 18th Government of Ireland, a minority government.
Fianna Fáil emerged as the largest party and looked most likely to form a government. However, internal divisions within the party threatened Charles Haughey's nomination for Taoiseach. In the end a leadership challenge did not take place, and Haughey was the party's nominee for Taoiseach. Haughey gained the support of the Independent Socialist TD Tony Gregory, the Independent Fianna Fáil TD Neil Blaney and the three Sinn Féin the Workers' Party deputies, and was appointed Taoiseach.
Dáil membership changesEdit
The following changes took place as a result of the election:
- 7 outgoing TDs retired
- 1 vacant seat at election time
- 157 outgoing TDs stood for re-election (also John O'Connell, the outgoing Ceann Comhairle, who was automatically returned)
- 136 of those were re-elected
- 21 failed to be re-elected
- 29 successor TDs were elected
- 21 were elected for the first time
- 8 had previously been TDs
- There was 1 successor female TD, who replaced 4 outgoing; thus the total decreased by 3 to 8.
- There were changes in 26 of 41 constituencies
Where more than one change took place in a constituency the concept of successor is an approximation for presentation only.
- Electoral (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 1980, s. 1: Amendment of section 14 of Electoral Act 1963 (No. 40 of 1980, s. 1). 23 December 1980. Act of the Oireachtas. Irish Statute Book.
- "23rd Dáil 1982 February: Dublin South-Central". ElectionsIreland.org. Retrieved 10 August 2022.
- "Election results and transfer of votes in general election (February, 1982) for twenty-third Dáil" (PDF). Houses of the Oireachtas. Dublin Stationery Office. August 1982. Retrieved 10 August 2022.
- "23rd Dáil February 1982 General Election". ElectionsIreland.org. Archived from the original on 7 May 2009. Retrieved 3 July 2009.
- "Dáil elections since 1918". ARK Northern Ireland. Archived from the original on 27 November 2020. Retrieved 3 July 2009.
- Nohlen, Dieter; Stöver, Philip (2010). Elections in Europe: A data handbook. pp. 1009–1017. ISBN 978-3-8329-5609-7.
- February 1982 election: Party leaders' debate RTÉ archives