Turnout isn’t even a symptom, so let’s stop the hand wringing

We’re all worried about the decline in turnout, aren’t we? Politicians, academics and other worthies march up to Glenties every year to worry about our failing politics, and to self-flagellate about our failure to reform it.

And it’s not just us we’re worried about this year. With the results of the 2014 European elections we worry that other parts of Europe have gone bad. They’ve elected nationalists! Let’s forget that the vote for the racist nationalists, who I assume are the ones we don’t like, has gone down in many countries. Something must be done!

The standard analysis is that the Front National in France and Britain’s UKIP were elected because so many good people didn’t bother to vote. It’s probably true that low turnout inflates support for anti-EU parties. It is also likely that in general elections in these countries, when more people vote.

But do we really need to solve the ‘problem’ of low turnout? Continue reading

Independents take top spot in Irish Polling Indicator

Post by Tom Louwerse (Trinity College, Dublin)

IPI_Longitudinal

Independents and smaller parties have seen their electoral support increased over the last two months. They now top the Irish Polling Indicator, which combines all national election polls in to one estimate of party support. Independents now score between 25.7% and 31%, followed by Sinn Féin at 21.5-25.7% and Fine Gael at 20.1%-24.2%. The largest government party has been on a downward slope in the polls since mid-February, while Continue reading

Interpreting the EP elections in Ireland in 2014

EuroParl Elections

Posted on behalf of Dr Stephen Quinlan

Voters head to the polls on Friday for European and local elections, the first nationwide election since the 2011 Presidential contest (excluding referndums). Interpretations of what the result will mean for each of the parties, domestic politics, and what it may tell us about Irish people’s attitudes towards the EU more generally are likely to be commonplace. This contribution examines some of the characteristics of European Parliament (EP) elections to help us understand how voters have approached these elections in the past and provides us with a starting point of what we may expect this weekend when the ballot boxes are opened and how the results may be interpreted. This piece builds on a 2009 report in Irish Political Studies examining the 2009 EP elections in Ireland, which is now available in a virtual free issue of the journal available at: http://explore.tandfonline.come/page/pgas/fips_elections. Elswhere, Aodh Quinlivan provides a similar synthesis of the local elections that are also taking place on Friday. Continue reading

Will independents bring ‘real change’?

Posted by Eoin O’Malley, Dublin City University

Image

Parties are increasingly unpopular. The recently released European Social Survey (wave 6) shows parties are distrusted by 85% of Irish people (compared with parliament and the government distrusted by 75% and 77% respectively).  Ireland isn’t that unusual; Most countries show a large majority lacking trust in parties. Danes, Swedes and Austrian are the most trustful of politics, but even in those places just about a third of respondents claim to trust parties.

This might not matter much. Continue reading

Local Elections 2014

ballot box

Posted on behalf of Dr Aodh Quinlivan, UCC

This blog builds upon a 2009 Local Election Report (co-authored with Dr Liam Weeks). The report is available to access free, online, in a virtual issue of Irish Political Studies on Local Government and European Parliament elections  http://explore.tandfonline.com/page/pgas/fips_elections

Local elections in Ireland are regarded as somewhat of a mystery. A major reason for this is because the local government system itself and its structures are perceived to be complex. If people do not understand the system or what local authorities actually do, it is not surprising that local elections are either seen as unimportant or irrelevant. This apathy is shared by large portions of the media who opt to analyse local elections merely in the context of what they mean for national politics and the next general election.

On 23 May we will have our 24th set of county and city council local elections since the ‘modern’ system of local government was introduced with the Local Government (Ireland) Act, 1898. These elections have taken place in 1899, 1902, 1905, 1908, 1911, 1914, 1920, 1925, 1928, 1934, 1942, 1945, 1950, 1955, 1960, 1967, 1974, 1979, 1985, 1991, 1999, 2004 and 2009. Continue reading

Pooling Irish Opinion Polls: Introducing the Irish Polling Indicator

Posted by Tom Louwerse, Trinity College DublinImage

Note: the last Red C poll does not provide separate estimates for the Green Party and Others, therefore the OTH and GP line end in April.

Opinion polls are a source of information for voters, parties and the media alike. Especially polls into the popularity of parties are usually quite popular. Polls can be a powerful instrument: if done well, a sample of just 1000 voters can give great insights into the (political) views of the entire Irish electorate. But polls are often misunderstood and incorrectly reported. A new tool brings together all Irish opinion polls and aggregates them into one estimate of the support for Irish parties.

The ‘Poll of polls’ has become popular in many countries over the last few years. Besides the popular electoral forecasts by Continue reading

In elections it’s not just how votes are counted that matters

The first annual report of the highly influential Electoral Integrity Project has just been published (see here). Professor Pippa Norris and her colleagues have carried out an extensive survey of the electoral process across the world’s democracies over the past few years. Ireland’s last election (2011) preceded this project so it was not included on this occasion, but as the work of this project continues, our next election will come under scrutiny. Continue reading