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

“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

Fianna Fail by-election performances

Fianna Fail experienced a significant loss in support in the recent Donegal South West by-election relative to their support level in that constituency, with their support down by 12,792 votes and percentage share of the vote down by 29.2%. But the recent history of the party has shown a tendency for the party to poll poorly in by elections only for party support levels to recover in a subsequent general election.   Continue reading

Donegal South West in maps

Pearse Doherty support by ED in Donegal South West, 2007 General Election

Pearse Doherty support by ED in Donegal South West, 2007 General Election

Adrian Kavanagh, 17 November 2010

Red C opinion poll figures for the Donegal South West by-election and the subsequent general election in that constituency provide ill tidings for Fianna Fail but offer very good news for Sinn Fein and Labour in that constituency.  But past electoral trends suggest that geographical factors/local voting trends will also need to be taken account of here. This post will look especially at geographical voting trends for the last general election in this constituency, based on an analysis and mapping of tally figures for that election. It suggests that the final result can be predicted based on early tallies by knowing the geography of voting in this constituency. Continue reading

Donegal South West by election: The numbers…

Adrian Kavanagh, 5 November 2010

On the basis of the most recent general election results in Donegal South West, this might be expected to be one constituency where Fianna Fail could actually have a realistic chance of winning a by-election (thus becoming the first government party to do so since Noel Treacy won the Galway East by-election in 1982), but a study of local election result trends in the three electoral areas that this Dail constituency is comprised of – Donegal (Town), Glenties and Stranorlar – offers a more sobering portrait for Fianna Fail and offers Fine Gael hope that they could be the party to win this by-election, thus offering prospects of yet another electoral success in western Ireland for the “Kenny Krusade”. Continue reading

Is the Dail ‘too busy’ for by-elections?

David Farrell (June 25, 2010)

The controversy over the government’s willful blocking of any attempts to call the long over-due by-elections continues. The following letter appeared in today’s Irish Times:

Madam, – The Government chief whip, John Curran said it is inappropriate for the Dublin South byelection to go ahead now because the Dáil “is in the middle of an extremely busy legislative programme” (Dáil Report, June 24th). I suppose that is the same reason Donegal South West has been without a TD since May 2009.
Maybe if the Dáil stopped taking such long recesses (so much longer than any normal worker could dream of), and instead put in the hours that they are so well paid for, then democratic Ireland would have the time to allow all her citizens to be represented. – Yours, etc,

Does this really feel like such an ‘exceptionally busy time’ for the Dail? Continue reading

The dangers of allowing governments set by-election dates

The clock is ticking on when the long-awaited by-elections will be held. Donegal South West has had a vacant Dail seat since Pat ‘the Cope’ Gallagher was elected MEP in June 2009, while Dublin South has been open since being vacated by George Lee in February 2010 and Waterford since Martin Cullen stepped down in March 2010.

The seemingly unending deferral of these three by-elections calls a number of things about democracy Irish-style into question, among them the issue of whether the government of the day should have to right to decide on the date. On regular occasions over the past few weeks the government has used its Dail majority to successfully block opposition parties’ attempts to call the by-elections. Continue reading

Should by-elections be abolished?

By Michael Gallagher

Leaving aside the broader issue of electoral reform (I’ve put some thoughts on this here), the question of how to fill casual vacancies has been discussed. At present, by-elections are used to fill such vacancies, and this has been criticised as an anomalous way of filling vacancies arising under a PR system. There are indeed anomalies, but would any other method mark an improvement? Continue reading