Irish general election, 1922
The Irish general election of 1922 took place in Southern Ireland on 16 June 1922, under the provisions of the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty to elect a constituent assembly paving the way for the formal establishment of the Irish Free State. For Irish republicans this chose part of the membership of the Third Dáil of the Irish Republic; under the provisions of the treaty it was a provisional parliament replacing the parliament of Southern Ireland. From 6 December 1922 it was the Dáil Éireann of the Irish Free State.
All 128 seats in Dáil Éireann
65 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.
As in the 1921 elections, Sinn Féin stood one candidate for every seat, except those for the University of Dublin and one other; however the treaty had divided the party between 65 pro-treaty candidates, 57 anti-treaty and 1 nominally on both sides. Unlike the elections a year earlier where Sinn Féin had been returned unopposed in almost every constituency, this time other parties stood in most constituencies and thus forced elections. A divided Sinn Féin could expect significant losses.
To minimise these losses, Éamon de Valera and Michael Collins worked out a pact approved on 20 May 1922. They agreed that the pro-treaty and anti-treaty factions would fight the general election jointly and form a coalition government afterwards. The sitting member would not be opposed by the other faction. This pact prevented voters giving their opinions on the treaty itself, especially in uncontested seats. However, the draft constitution of the Irish Free State was then published on 15 June, and so the anti-treaty Sinn Féin group's 36 seats out of 128 seemed to many to be a democratic endorsement of the pro-treaty Sinn Féin's arrangements. Others[who?] argued that insufficient time was available to understand the draft constitution, but the main arguments and debates had already been made public during and after the Dáil "Treaty Debates" that had ended on 10 January 1922, nearly six months before.
Winston Churchill, then Secretary of State for the Colonies, opposed the Pact as undemocratic, and made a long statement on 31 May. He was responsible at the time for steering the transitional arrangements between the Provisional Government and Britain, in the period between the ratification of the Treaty and the creation of the Irish Free State.
Despite the Pact, the election results started the effective division of Sinn Féin into separate parties. The anti-Treaty TDs then boycotted the new Dáil, even though they had requested, negotiated and approved the terms of the Pact. This boycott gave uncontested control to the pro-treaty members of Sinn Féin, and so enabled W. T. Cosgrave to establish the Second Irish Provisional Government and later the First Executive Council of the Irish Free State.
|Sinn Féin (Pro-Treaty)||Michael Collins||58||N/A||45.3||239,195||38.5||N/A|
|Sinn Féin (Anti-Treaty)||Éamon de Valera||36||N/A||28.1||135,310||21.8||N/A|
|Labour Party||Thomas Johnson||17||New||13.3||132,565||21.3||New|
|Farmers' Party||Denis Gorey||7||New||5.5||48,718||7.8||New|
Many seats were won unopposed; 17 by the Pro-Treaty Sinn Féin, 16 by the Anti-Treaty Sinn Féin and 4 by independents.
Out of a valid poll of 621,587 votes, the pro-Treaty part of the Sinn Féin party won 239,195 votes and their anti-Treaty rivals secured 135,310 votes. The other parties and independents (see above) all supported the Treaty and secured a further 247,080 votes.
The vote was seen as significant in several ways:
- The pro-Treaty parties had secured support from over 75% of the electorate on the eve of the Irish Civil War.
- The non-Sinn Féin parties had support from over 40% of the electorate.
Further, the anti-Treaty candidates had taken part in an election that was required under the articles of the Treaty, even though they had argued that it was completely flawed. Their opponents argued that this revealed that their anti-Treaty stance was opportunist, and not principled.
In that the anti-Treaty forces wanted to establish an all-Ireland republic, this election result when considered with the 1921 result in Northern Ireland shows that the anti-Treaty party had an enormous uphill struggle to achieve their constitutional aim.
Within 12 days, on 28 June 1922, as a result of the tensions between pro and anti-Treatyites, the Irish Civil War broke out, when the Provisional Government's troops began a bombardment of the Anti-Treaty IRA occupation of the Four Courts, Dublin.
- Kathleen Clarke (Lost seat)
- Dieter Nohlen & Philip Stöver (2010) Elections in Europe: A data handbook, p990 ISBN 978-3-8329-5609-7
- Adoption of Pact agreement Archived 11 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
- Hansard 31 May 1922 – Churchill's statement
- "3rd Dáil 1922 General Election". ElectionsIreland.org. Retrieved 2 January 2011.
- "Dáil elections since 1918". ARK Northern Ireland. Retrieved 2 January 2011.
- Dieter Nohlen & Philip Stöver (2010) Elections in Europe: A data handbook, p1009 ISBN 978-3-8329-5609-7
- Younger, Calton "Ireland's Civil War" Muller, London 1968; p.304.