The process to a poll is complex, and may not even be the party's first priorityby Siobhán Fenton / February 11, 2020 / Leave a comment
This week, the final results of the Irish general election were announced after two full days of counting. In a leisure centre in Cavan, the last of the newly elected crop of TDs (Teachtaí Dála; members of parliament) were announced to the raucous cheers of the victors and exhausted yawns of the vote counters.
It was a muted end to a 48 hours which changed Irish politics utterly. On Saturday night, the exit poll sent shockwaves throughout the political landscape, revealing an unexpected Sinn Féin surge which put the previously small party on a par with the traditional two main parties, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. Sinn Féin received 24.5 per cent of first preference votes cast, Fianna Fáil received 22.2 per cent and Fine Gael, who have been in government since 2011, came third with 20.9 per cent.
A hung Dáil
Under the country’s proportional voting system, the exact seat share takes a while to calculate and the country held its breath as it waited to see exactly how vote transfers would pan out. In the end, Fianna Fáil (a centrist party, which tends to veer towards the left on public spending) won the most seats with 38. Sinn Féin came a close second with 37 and Fine Gael (another centrist party, which is more fiscally conservative) came third with 35.
None of the parties have enough seats to form a majority in the 160 seat Dáil parliament. Such a scenario is common in Ireland, where parties often govern in confidence-and-supply arrangements or coalitions. However, what has changed momentously is that for the last century, either Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil has been in power in some form or another.
Sinn Féin, who have been in government in Northern Ireland’s power-sharing arrangement at Stormont for over a decade, have largely been relegated to fringe status in the Republic, with few imagining they would ever stand on the cusp of power in Dublin.
Who goes into government?
A series of intense negotiations are now underway, as Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald seeks to cobble together enough support among smaller left-wing parties.
However, such a grand coalition could be unwieldy and fall apart in the short…