Europe 2009 – Ireland


This is the first in a series of profiles of each EU member state in the leadup to the European Parliament elections in early June.

Ireland will elect it’s Members of the European Parliament on Friday 5th June. The same day will see two by-elections for seats in the national Parliament, the Dáil Éireann, in Dublin South and Dublin Central, and local government elections across the Republic of Ireland.

Ireland will elect 12 MEPs on June 5, down from 13 in 2004. The republic is divided into four constituencies, with each electing 3 MEPs. The Dublin constituency previously elected 4 MEPs, but has lost one seat since the last election. North-West constituency has also taken more terrritory from East constituency.

The 2004 election saw Fine Gael (European People’s Party) win 5 seats, Fianna Fail (Union for Europe of the Nations) win 4 seats, Labour (Party of European Socialists) win 1 seat and Sinn Fein (European United Left) win 1 seat, and two independents, one aligned with the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe and the other aligned with Independence/Democracy.

These seats were split this way:

Irish politics has shifted greatly since the last general election in 2007. Support for Fianna Fail has plummeted, and the position of the Green Party has declined dramatically. The Green Party’s unpopularity has manifested in a number of ex-Greens running in the European elections. Ireland East Labour candidate is a former Green Party councillor who resigned in order to run for the Labour Party in the European election. Patricia McKenna, who was a Dublin MEP for the Green Party from 1999 to 2004, is running as an independent in competition with the Green candidate. Fianna Fail will also be leaving Union for Europe of the Nations and transferring to the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe following the election.

Meanwhile the performance of Labour, Fine Gael and Sinn Fein have all improved as the economic crisis has destroyed the credibility of the governing parties. The Irish Times recently commissioned polls for each constituency, which show that Labour, Fine Gael and Sinn Fein are on track to gain seats from Fianna Fail and independents, while Fianna Fail looks set to be the party to lose a seat in Dublin after the redistribution.

Update: Just to clarify, Ireland’s MEPs are elected using the same STV system used to elect the Dáil.

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  1. With only 12 MEPs, one wonders why they bother dividing up the map into four constituencies.

    Ireland really ought to vote as a unitary state.

  2. Well, that’s the electoral system Ireland uses. Unlike the UK, Ireland’s national electoral system is permissable under EU electoral law.

    So they have 4 constituencies of 3 each. In elections to the Dail all constituencies have 3-5 TDs each.

    I guess they could split it 5-4-3 or 4-4-4, but it’s worth remembering that 12 is the smallest number Ireland has had.

    From the first direct EP election in 1979 until 2004 Ireland had 15 MEPs, so they originally split the Republic into Dublin, Leinster, Munster and Connacht-Ulster. In 2004 the redistribution resulted in Connacht-Ulster expanding, so the seats were renamed to Dublin, East, South and North-West respectively.

    So in the original election, they had a 5-seater, a 4-seater and two 3-seaters. I guess if their numbers keep falling they will have to reduce the number of constituencies.

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