2011 election: transfer patterns reveal more about Fianna Fáil’s electoral meltdown

Posted by David Farrell (March 4, 2011)

In an earlier post, Liam Weeks extolled the virtues of transfers in STV. Data supplied by RTE’s election results service provide interesting insights into how Irish voters made strategic use of transfers in this election. As ever there is much to pore over, but here are two interesting trends that I would draw attention to.

Table 1: Levels of internal party loyalty (intermediate transfers that stay within party ranks)

2011 

%

2007 

%

Fianna Fáil 58.2 66.9
Fine Gael 66.8 64.3
Labour 56.3 43.7
Greens n.a. 61.1
Sinn Féin 57.6 n.a.

Source: RTE election results service

Table 2: Destination of inter-party (terminal) transfers in 2011

FF 

%

FG 

%

Lab 

%

GP 

%

SF 

%

Non-trans 

%

FF 20.7 16.9 n.a. 9.0 36.3
FG 25.1 27.8 2.7 5.3 22.7
Lab 10.7 35.8 2.0 9.4 19.5
GP 14.8 34.1 21.5 1.9 14.9
SF 10.8 19.9 23.4 0.9 28.3

Source: RTE election results service

First there has been a notable shift in the relative degrees of internal party loyalty in this election. Indeed, this is yet another feature of the story of Fianna Fáil’s electoral meltdown – namely the collapse in its internal party loyalty, down to just 58% in 2011 (Table 1). Fianna Fail’s internal party loyalty used to be the thing of legends. If there was one thing that marked the party out as distinct from all the others it was over the degree to which its supporters voted down the party ticket, ranking all of its candidates in turn. As Michael Gallagher’s analysis in the various How Ireland Voted volumes has identified this tendency has been in decline in recent election, which is one reason why the party has sought to run less candidates in recent elections. But as recently as 2007, Fianna Fáil still retained higher levels than the other parties. This lead has now been wiped out, demonstrating just how bloody and internecine the party’s candidate wars must have been this time round.

The second traditional feature of Fianna Fáil transfer patterns has been the tendency for its supporters to plump only for Fianna Fáil candidates and then cease to have any more transfers. In this respect, the party has seen an improvement: Table 2 reports a figure of 36% of Fianna Fáil transfers that were non-transferable, which is a significant rise from 22% in 2007. But the far bigger story about Fianna Fáil’s terminal transfers is how relatively few of them went to Fine Gael (21%), far less than might have been expected given the noises being made early in the count by Fine Gael strategists that many Fianna Fáil voters would be ‘lending’ their support to their party.

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5 thoughts on “2011 election: transfer patterns reveal more about Fianna Fáil’s electoral meltdown

  1. I presume the figures don’t add up to 100% across the table because you have not included transfers to/from Independents/others? It might br useful to include those figures because the success of independents and small parties was one of the features of the election.

    The high level of FG internal loyalty and lack of FG transfers to Labour (compared to Labour transfers to FG) would appear to indicate that FG is the new FF!

    • As Frank says : “I presume the figures don’t add up to 100% across the table because you have not included transfers to/from Independents/others?”

      I have put together a statistical analysis of Labour Party lower preferences, where no other Labour candidate is in the contest (these are known as terminal transfers), and candidates from both the left and right are still in the race.

      It is here :

      Labour Voters – How Cool Are They About Coalition With the Right?

      http://tomasoflatharta.com/2011/03/15/labour-voters-how-cool-are-they-about-coalition-with-the-right/

      I intend making a similar analysis of transfers from the ULA/SF/Left Independent Bloc

      (I excluded South Kerry from tha analysis, due to insufficient knowledge about the political character of all the independents left in the race when the Labour candidate was eliminated)

  2. No one has begun to analyse the rise of the SF vote. Also its internal loyalty reminds me of its origins as a slightly constitutional party.
    They would find their power base outside the State and would have been active in inner city areas or in Constituencies along the border areas, traditionally the heartland of PRIRA.They benefited from FF disaffections.

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