The Quiet Protest Vote – Intra-party Councillor Replacement in #le14

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Post by Dr. Michael Courtney, TCD

The big stories of this year’s local elections are the collapse of the Labour party vote and the ongoing rise of Sinn Féin. To a large degree, the surge in Sinn Féin’s percentage of the vote and number of councillors is attributed to a protest vote. The narrative goes that those who voted for Fine Gael and Labour in the 2009 Locals and the 2011 General Election are punishing these parties for continuing the programme of austerity and the breaking of several election promises. The voters’ strategy is interpreted to be; to vote for other parties in the local elections to demonstrate their unhappiness with the government’s performance. This type of voting behaviour in ‘second-order’ elections is usually evident in good economic times and bad. Continue reading

Will independents bring ‘real change’?

Posted by Eoin O’Malley, Dublin City University

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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

The future is…. Fianna Fáil?

Colm-Keaveney-2-appHere’s a link to an op ed Shaun Bowler and I published in today’s Irish Times that makes use of the 2011 Irish National Election Study (INES) to examine the potential for a new political party in Ireland. The bottom line is that, based at least on this rich source of data, the potential is not great. The group of voters showing greatest inclination for change are those based at the centre who traditionally support Fianna Fáil. Plus ça change…?

A political system friendly to independents but not to new parties

jfoley11aEvery day there is some opinion piece or other speculating about the possibility of a new political party emerging in Ireland. Journalistic eyes are peeled, watching every movement, signal or nuance from the likes of Lucinda Creighton, Michael McDowell, or any other obvious contenders seen as most likely to lead the way in establishing a new party. But how our political system is set up makes life very difficult for ambitious individuals aspiring to establish a new party. By contrast, it’s very easy for ambitious individuals wanting to run for office as independents. Continue reading

Where’s Ireland’s party political earthquake now?

The last election was seen at the time as an electoral earthquake. In the midst of the worst economic crisis in our history it was to be expected that the voters would be gunning for the government of the day. The devastation of Fianna Fáil (losing three-quarters of their seats) and the disappearance of the Greens (losing all of theirs) certainly seemed of earthquake proportions, as were the historically high levels of electoral volatility – one of the highest ever recorded in any democracy (see here). It was said at the time that politics would never be the same again: moulds had been broken; party allegiances had been blown away; Fianna Fáil were judged to be in their death throes never to return again. Continue reading

Professional politicians and political reform. (Matt Wall)

A couple of interesting stories in the Irish media today caused me to re-consider the notion that political reform should be the exclusive domain of elected politicians. With their electoral mandates, experience of the day-to-day functioning of political institutions and (in Ireland, at least) their exclusive right to initiate constitutional change, our professional politicians certainly have more claim than most other social groups or organisations to take the lead on this issue.

Continue reading