How to predict the result of an Irish election

2012consts-752x501By Michael Gallagher

Election campaigns feature extensive, some would say excessive, discussion of the horse-race aspects: in short, how many seats will the parties win? Until the votes are cast and counted, all we have to go on are the findings from opinion polls, and the challenge is to make accurate seat predictions from these.

One issue is the accuracy of the polls themselves, an issue highlighted by shortcomings shown up in the British election last May. This is an interesting subject in itself, but for the moment the question is how confident we could be, even if we knew for certain exactly how many votes each of the parties will win on 27 February, about being able to predict seat numbers.

Basically, there are two broad approaches to this:

(i) make predictions for every constituency and aggregate the totals;

(ii) make national-level seat predictions from national-level vote shares.

Continue reading

Is Miliband inadvertently helping Scottish independence?

Salmond Miliband Call The Tune (3)

There are now so many red lines laid down during the UK general election that forming a coalition is going to resemble a scene from Mission Impossible. SNP won’t support the Tories, UKIP won’t support Labour, Sinn Féin won’t support (or oppose) anyone,… Most of this is just electioneering. Even the one party that’s keeping options reasonably open – the LibDems – is giving mixed messages probably in the hope it can save a few seats by appealing to Tory or Labour supporters that a vote for them in key marginals could help keep Labour or the Tories out of power.

Labour on the other hand has firmly ruled out ANY deal with the SNP. Again this is electioneering. It’s simultaneously hoping that it can convince Scottish voters that a vote for Labour is the only way to ditch the Tories, and English voters that a vote for Labour won’t damage the Union.  Continue reading

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

nrocknoexpenses1

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

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

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