Was Michael D. Higgins elected for his policy views?


President Michael D. Higgins has caused some controversy (though this might be too strong a word) for his more outspoken comments on some issues. In a speech he gave in DCU in September he was highly critical of neo-liberalism as an ideology and economics as a discipline. We should hardly be surprised. Most know where he stands on these issues, and given that, President Higgins has probably been restrained.

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NEW BOOK: The Irish Presidency: Power, Ceremony and Politics


Although the office of President of Ireland has attracted a great deal of public attention, especially since the election of Mary Robinson in 1990, the presidency has been the subject of little analysis. This gap in our knowledge of Irish politics is filled by this timely collection, which brings together a set of studies that explore the political role of the Irish presidency from a comparative perspective.

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The progress of the Irish Constitutional Convention to date

ccvenDeclaration of interest: The author is the research director of the Irish Constitutional Convention

The Irish Constitutional Convention has almost completed its work.  At its most recent meeting it dealt with the last of the eight topics assigned to it by the Government. All that remains is for the Convention to use its remaining time to consider ‘Any other Amendments’ — the focus of its final meetings early in the New Year.

On its establishment, the Convention was roundly criticised, with much of the criticism focused on the limited (and admitedly pretty eclectic) range of topics that it was given to consider.  Over the course of its deliberations minds have changed and many who were critical of it are less so today (see here for an example).

This post updates on an earlier analysis (see here) of the progress of the Convention to date. Continue reading

Change we can believe in? The government’s proposed Constitutional Convention

Matthew Wall

The government’s recently unveiled proposals on the forthcoming constitutional convention make for disappointing reading for those who, like this author, had hoped that such a body could facilitate profound political reform in Ireland.

The proposed convention, to be comprised of a chair, 66 members of the public and 33 elected politicians, is hobbled by a narrow and disjointed pre-set agenda, and limited to a strictly advisory role.

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Presidential election expenses released

By Eoin O’Malley (15 February, 2012)

SIPO last night released details for candidate election expenses – set out here. They provide useful information as to what candidates spent their money on in the campaign and how much each spent. They are less useful, however, for disclosing where each candidate’s money came from. We can see, for instance, that Gay Mitchell spent €527, 152, making him the highest spending candidate, but still well below the spending limit of €750,000. But we have no idea where the money came from, as none of his donations exceeded €634.87. Martin McGuinness  spent just over €300k,  but received a bit over €4,000 in disclose-able donations. Much of the money from these candidates will have been raise in the form of donations of less than €634. A lot of it may have come from their parties, and donations to the parties will be disclosed separately (this may benefit parties as a donor can give to a party and to a candidate used for the same campaign but not disclosed as such). And some of the money spent may have come in the form of bank loans.  Continue reading

Betting odds for the Presidential election 2011

Eoin O’Malley (26 October 2011)

We might be interested in betting markets as a rival to polling for measuring shifts in support, particularly in Ireland where polling is comparatively infrequent and irregular. The idea is that people putting real money on a result may know something, and that those who do have information will see value in odds,  and the market will be efficient because bad offers will be exploited by those with information. I’ve tracked the Paddy Power election odds for over a month, and graphed what the market thinks the result will be, over time – it is a representation of the odds for ‘who will be the next Irish President?’. Continue reading

Gallagher poll lead widens in weekend polls while Sinn Fein and Independents gain in terms of party support

Adrian Kavanagh, 25th October 2011

The final series of opinion polls at the weekend saw Sean Gallagher maintain, and even widen somewhat, the lead he established over Michael D. Higgins and the other candidates in the previous weekend’s Sunday Business Post-Red C poll, although the sheer momentum he had built up over the previous few weeks has abated somewhat. Continue reading

Po-Mo pushes Gallagher into significant lead as presidential election contest points to influence of political classes

Adrian Kavanagh, 17th October 2011

The Sunday Business Post-Red C poll shows momentum for Sean Gallagher continuing and now pushing him well ahead of Michael D. Higgins and other contenders and on these figures he could expect to enjoy a comfortable victory on the final count by more than 200,000 votes. Just as interesting is the degree to which this campaign is opening up, or rather intensifying, questions to do with politicial class divisions that exist within Irish society (rural, urban middle class, urban working class) and impact on parties, voters and various elements of the political commentariat. Continue reading

“I’m in!” – Gallagher campaign gathers momentum and Sinn Fein support surging in latest series of opinion polls

Adrian Kavanagh, 6th-9th October 2011

The two presidential election polls and the Irish Times-Ipsos MRBI and Sunday Times-Behaviour and Attitudes polls on party support intentions offers interesting trends. Sean Gallagher has emerged as the surprise package in the presidential election polls and poses a more serious threat to Michael D. Higgins than that which Martin McGuinness and David Norris were posing in last week’s Red C poll. While the gamble of the McGuinness candidature may not be translating into a likely win for Sinn Fein, it could be argued that the gamble is paying off in terms of the huge increase in support registered for the party in the Irish Times-Ipsos MRBI and Sunday Times-Behaviour and Attitudes poll, propelling the party past Labour and Fianna Fail into second place. Based on the Ipsos MRBI figures the party will need to take further support off Labour if Sinn Fein is to overtake Labour as the party with the second largest number of seats in Dail Eireann, but the poll figures in the Sunday Times-Behaviour and Attitudes poll suggests that Sinn Fein would exactly do that. Continue reading

And they’re off!

paddypower.com has these odds for the presidential race up:

Michael D.Higgins evens
David Norris 9/4
Martin McGuinness 4/1
Gay Mitchell 8/1
Mary Davis 12/1
Sean Gallagher 40/1
Dana Rosemary Scallon 50/1

Looking like a two-horse race (candidates very rarely win with odds outside of 3/1). Will be interesting to see if these numbers shift in the coming weeks…