The Irish presidential election determines who serves as the President of Ireland, the head of state of Ireland. The last election took place on 26 October 2018. Where only one candidate is nominated, that candidate is declared elected without a ballot; this has occurred on six occasions.
Presidential elections are conducted in line with Article 12 of the Constitution and under the Presidential Elections Act 1993, as amended. An election is ordinarily held not more than 60 days before the scheduled ending of the incumbent's seven-year term of office. In case of a casual vacancy (by death, resignation or impeachment) an election is held within 60 days. The dates during which candidates may be nominated and the date of the election are fixed by an order made by the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government.
All Irish citizens may vote in presidential elections if they have the right to vote in elections to Dáil Éireann (the lower house of the Oireachtas or parliament). The voting age is eighteen. The Dáil electoral register is based on residency within a geographical Dáil constituency, so that those living abroad may not vote, except diplomats and military posted overseas. Resident UK citizens may vote in Dáil elections but not presidential elections. A proposed constitutional amendment would give non-resident citizens a vote in presidential elections.
Elections are conducted by means of the instant-runoff voting, which is the single-winner analogue of the single transferable vote used in other Irish elections. The constitution calls the system "proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote", although a single-seat election cannot be proportional.
To qualify, candidates must:
- be a citizen of Ireland,
- be at least 35 years of age, and
- be nominated by:
The election order will declare the last day on which nominations may be received. If a member of the Oireachtas or a County or City council nominate more than one candidate, only the first nomination paper received from them will be deemed valid.
Spending limits and donationsEdit
The spending limits in a Presidential election were reduced in 2011. The limit is €750,000 (was €1.3 million) and the amount a candidate can be reimbursed from the State is €200,000 (was €260,000). A candidate who is elected or who receives in excess of one quarter of the quota can seek reimbursement of their expenses.
The value of donations that may be accepted by candidates, their election agents and third parties at a presidential election is governed by law. In the case of candidates and presidential election agents, the maximum donation that may be accepted from a person (or a body) in a particular year cannot exceed €2,539. In the case of a third party, the maximum donation that may be accepted cannot exceed €6,348. The acceptance of donations from non-Irish citizens residing abroad is prohibited.
|Election||Candidate||Age||Nominated by||1st Pref.||Winner|
|1938||Douglas Hyde||78||Oireachtas: Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael||n/a||n/a||Douglas Hyde|
|1945||Patrick McCartan||67||Oireachtas: Labour Party and Clann na Talmhan||212,834||19.6%||Seán T. O'Kelly|
|Seán Mac Eoin||51||Oireachtas: Fine Gael and Independent TDs||335,539||30.9%|
|Seán T. O'Kelly||62||Oireachtas: Fianna Fáil||537,965||49.5%|
|1952||Seán T. O'Kelly||69||Self-nomination||n/a||n/a||Seán T. O'Kelly|
|1959||Éamon de Valera||76||Oireachtas: Fianna Fáil||538,003||56.3%||Éamon de Valera|
|Seán Mac Eoin||65||Oireachtas: Fine Gael||417,536||43.7%|
|1966||Éamon de Valera||83||Oireachtas: Fianna Fáil||558,861||50.5%||Éamon de Valera|
|Tom O'Higgins||49||Oireachtas: Fine Gael||548,144||49.5%|
|1973||Erskine H. Childers||60||Oireachtas: Fianna Fáil||635,867||51.9%||Erskine H. Childers|
|Tom O'Higgins||56||Oireachtas: Fine Gael||587,771||48.0%|
|1974||Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh||63||Oireachtas: Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour Party||n/a||n/a||Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh|
|1976||Patrick Hillery||53||Oireachtas: Fianna Fáil||n/a||n/a||Patrick Hillery|
|1983||Patrick Hillery||60||Self-nomination||n/a||n/a||Patrick Hillery|
|1990||Austin Currie||51||Oireachtas: Fine Gael||267,902||17.0%||Mary Robinson|
|Brian Lenihan||59||Oireachtas: Fianna Fáil||694,484||44.1%|
|Mary Robinson||46||Oireachtas: Labour Party and Workers' Party||612,265||38.9%|
|1997||Mary Banotti||58||Oireachtas: Fine Gael||372,002||29.3%||Mary McAleese|
|Mary McAleese||46||Oireachtas: Fianna Fáil and Progressive Democrats||574,424||45.2%|
|Derek Nally||60||County and City Councils||59,529||4.7%|
|Adi Roche||42||Oireachtas: Labour Party, Democratic Left and Green Party||88,423||6.9%|
|Dana Rosemary Scallon||46||County and City Councils||175,458||13.8%|
|2004||Mary McAleese||53||Self-nomination||n/a||n/a||Mary McAleese|
|2011||Mary Davis||57||County and City Councils||48,657||2.7%||Michael D. Higgins|
|Seán Gallagher||49||County and City Councils||504,964||28.5%|
|Michael D. Higgins||70||Oireachtas: Labour Party||701,101||39.6%|
|Martin McGuinness||61||Oireachtas: Sinn Féin and Independent TDs||243,030||13.7%|
|Gay Mitchell||59||Oireachtas: Fine Gael||113,321||6.4%|
|David Norris||67||County and City Councils||109,469||6.2%|
|Dana Rosemary Scallon||60||County and City Councils||51,220||2.9%|
|2018||Peter Casey||60||County and City Councils||342,727||23.3%||Michael D. Higgins|
|Seán Gallagher||56||County and City Councils||94,514||6.4%|
|Gavin Duffy||58||County and City Councils||32,198||2.2%|
|Joan Freeman||60||County and City Councils||87,908||6.0%|
|Michael D. Higgins||77||Self-nomination||822,566||55.8%|
|Liadh Ní Riada||51||Oireachtas: Sinn Féin||93,987||6.4%|
Election dates and forms of nominationEdit
|Year||Ministerial Order||Close of Nominations||Nominations||Election date||Inauguration|
|1938||14 April||4 May||1||0||0||31 May||25 June|
|1945||16 May||3||0||0||14 June||25 June|
|1952||25 April||16 May||0||0||1||10 June||25 June|
|1959||27 April||19 May||2||0||0||17 June||25 June|
|1966||27 April||10 May||2||0||0||1 June||25 June|
|1973||25 April||8 May||2||0||0||30 May||25 June|
|1974||1||0||0||17 November||19 December|
|1976||1||0||0||2 October||3 December|
|1983||7 November||21 October||0||0||1||23 November||3 December|
|1990||3||0||0||7 November||3 December|
|1997||15 September||30 September||3||2||0||30 October||11 November|
|2004||13 September||1 October||0||0||1||22 October||11 November|
|2011||30 August||28 September||3||4||0||27 October||11 November|
|2018||28 August||26 September||1||4||1||26 October||11 November|
Election dates in italics indicate dates which were set in the ministerial order, but where no election was held as only one candidate had been nominated.
- Article 12 of the Constitution of Ireland. "Constitution of Ireland". Department of the Taoiseach. June 2012. Retrieved 30 July 2013.
- "Presidential Elections Act 1993" (PDF). Irish Presidential Election. Presidential Returning Officer. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 September 2018. Retrieved 21 September 2018.
- "Electing a President – Preferential Voting". ACE: The Electoral Knowledge Network. Retrieved 7 August 2011.
- Constitution Review Group (1996). "Article XII – XIV The President". Report (PDF). Government of Ireland. p. 22. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 July 2011. Retrieved 18 October 2011.
- The 1995 report of the Constitution Review Group notes "There is an apparent discrepancy between the English and Irish versions. The Irish version has ‘ag a bhfuil cúig bliana tríochad slán’ (that is, has completed thirty-five years), whereas the English version is ‘who has reached his thirty-fifth year of age’, which could mean has entered rather than completed that year." As the Irish language text prevails, this means a candidate must be at least 35 years old
- "Presidential Election in Ireland". Citizens Information Board Ireland. Retrieved 14 October 2011.
- "How the President is elected" (PDF). Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government. August 2011.