Thursday, April 23, 2009

Dublin Gears Up for Euro Election on June 5th

It is 20 years since Dublin voters first directly elected MEP's. There have been 6 Euro elections since then and slightly more than 2 million valid votes to elect candidates to 24 seats - 4 for each election. Fianna Fail have won 27% and Fine Gael have won 25% of these 2 million votes. Fianna Fail and Fine Gael have each won 7 of the 24 seats. Labour also won 7, if the seat won by Proinsias de Rossa as a Workers Party candidate in 1989 is included. The Green Party won two and Sinn Fein won one.

The next Euro election will take place on June 5th. The Dublin constituency has grown by almost 33% since 1979 and its 820,000 voters comprise a very ethnically diverse population.

This election will be different becuase the Dublin Euro constituency has been made a 3-seater, which means that the quota will be higher, possibly as high as 105,500 votes.

The current cohort representing Dublin are:
  • Gay Mitchell, Fine Gael
  • Eoin Ryan, Fianna Fáil
  • Proinsias de Rossa, Labour
  • Mary Lou McDonald, Sinn Féin

Eight candidates have been declared so far:

  • Eoin Ryan and Eibhlin Byrne (Lord Mayor of Dublin), Fianna Fáil
  • Gay Mitchell, Fine Gael
  • Proinsias de Rossa
  • Déirdre de Búrca, The Green Party
  • Mary Lou McDonald, Sinn Féin
  • Caroline Simons, Libertas

Twelve candidates contested this election in 2004. The election will be based on the 2006 Census of Population revealed that Dublin had a population of 1,187,186, an increase of 5.7% over 2002.

2004 Election

The total poll was 435,136 of which there were 13,239 spoilt votes leaving a valid poll of 421,897 valid votes. The quota was 84,380.

Mitchell was elected on the first count with 90,749 votes or 1.08 of the quota.

Ryan was elected on the fifth count with 61,681 votes or 0.73 of a quota. But the second FF candidate meant that the party’s total vote in the election was 97,950 votes, or 116.1% of a quota.

De Rossa was elected on the 6th count with 54,344 votes, or 0.64% of a quota. But he had a running mate who brought the total vote of The Labour Party to 95,051, or 112.6% of a quota.

McDonald was the sole Sinn Féin candidate and polled 60,395 votes, or 14.3% of a quota.

2009 Election

The revision of the constituency to e 3-seater means that the quota rise to 25% of the valid poll and if the turnout is similar to the last Euro election that will translate into approximately 105,500 votes. The turnout is likely to be about 85% of the number that voted in the last general election. How will this impact the parties?

Fianna Fáil

Despite being hammered in the opinion polls and the appalling state of the economy, FF would need a drop of catastrophic proportions for Eoin Ryan to lose. They won 196,000 votes in Dublin in the 2007 general election.

Their challenge is to win an extra 7,500 votes above the number won in 2004 from a cohort of voters who have supported the Party before.

FF has 19 Dáil deputies in the Dublin Euro constituency. 90% of these made quota in the general election and FF has at least one TD in each of the 11 constituencies. The prospects of Eoin Ryan being returned to Europe are strong notwithstanding opinion poll trends.

Fine Gael

Mitchell won 90,749 votes in 2004 and the party won a total of 91,891 votes in the 11 Dublin constituencies in 2007. But FG has no representation in 3 Dáil constituencies and just 7 of its 10 Dublin deputies made quota in 2007, an election of revival for the party.

Fine Gael have been politically castrated in Dublin since the early 1980's. That was the era of pro-life referendums, divorce referendums and the beginning of Ireland becoming a more liberal, luralist society. But a rump of Fine Gael found it difficult to abandon its posture as pussy cat to the Archbishop of Dublin. The consequence of this is that Fine Gael have never broken 91,000 votes in Dublin so the 15,000 extra votes needed this time must come from voters who have never supported Fine Gael before. Are there enough of these? Probably by the end of the count

Given more favourable opinion poll ratings, a realistic challenge for FG would be to win 100,000 votes in Dublin in the Euro election. That would signal a basis of recovery in the capital in the run up to the next general election.

The Labour Party

If zombie trade unions, such as those on the brink of closing Lufthansa Technik at Rathcoole, the only business with serious investment plans in Ireland today, do not torpedo the advances made in the opinion polls, Labour should win a Euro seat in Dublin. Its total vote in 2004 was a very respectable 95,051 and in the 2007 general election Labour won 70,681 votes in Dublin – which means that it needs to win 35,000 more votes to make quota in the Euro election. deRossa polled 54,344 votes in the 2004 Euro election and it was the 40,707 votes of his running mate, Bacik, which secured his seat on the 6th count. But this candidate will be 69 years of age when this election takes place and I suspect his profile and impact may not be as strong across Dublin to successfully fight this campaign as a loner, as he would like to believe. Ronald Reagan won the US presidency at this age. But deRossa is not an actor and he has work to do this time round to demonstrate that he has the vitality and freshness for another 5 years!

Sinn Féin

McDonald won 60,395 votes in 2005 ousting the incumbent McKenna from The Green Party who won 40,445 votes. However, SF only polled 35,356 votes in the 2007 general election so there is quite a gap of 70,000 votes to attain the quota of 105,500 votes needed next month. The incumbent candidate has made little impact on the electorate and it is hard to see how she will overcome the deficit.

The Green Party

Christopher Fettis was the first candidate to contest the Euro election in Dublin. He did so in 1984, won 5,242 votes and lost his deposit. Trevor Sargent built on this base and won 37,317 votes in the 1989 European election. Patricia McKenna was triumphant in 1994 winning 40,388 votes, when the quota was 55,569. She was also successful again in 1999 but polled 35,659 when the quota was a tad higher at 56,135. She won 40,445 votes in 2004 but lost to Mary Lou McDonald

The Greens won 41,813 votes won in 2007 general election– enough to return 5 candidates to Dáil Éireann and the performance of their Ministers has been fairly solid.

Their Euro candidate, Deirdre de Búrca, has never held elected office in Dublin and her press release of April 22nd pandering to overtures to her to stand for Libertas does not define a candidate terribly sure of herself or with a compelling loyalty to the Greens. A waffling quotation from her to the effect that she refused the Libertas invitation for many reasons is pitiful. What next? Perhaps a press release to confirm that she does not use Jeyes Parazone bleach as a shampoo!

Their deputy, Paul Gogarty, managed to trivialise his stature in a recent Hot Press interview. He may as well have stood under the GPO and shouted "I am an inconsequential, marginalised political buffoon", so if the Greens want to the considered heavy political hitters their candidates need to sop scoring 'own goals'.

The Socialist Party

Joe Higgins won 23,218 in the 2004 Euro election and he and his candidates won 11,518 votes in the 2007 general election. Any advance on this will be progress!

Progressive Democrats

The PD's did not contest the 2004 Euro election. The won a total of 20,481 votes in Dublin in the 2007 general election acrosss nine constituncies but won only one Dublin seat - Mary Harney in Dublin Mid West. The wake before annihilation.


Four independents won 14,089 votes in 2004 – 4% short of a quota between them. This would imply that the established parties garner over 75% of the votes . Dublin voters have been fairly conservative and consistent in their voting habits. But the pain felt in May as a consequence of lower pay packets, the absence of a job or the prospect of a job could test their patience.


Both FF and FG should reach shouting distance of quota. A battle over 40,000 votes will determine the 3rd seat and nothing is absolutely certain!

A convincing campaign by deBurca could return the Greens to Europe from the capital. Is there a catalyst for a recovery by Sinn Fein and what is this?

The voters will not respond to the narcisstic social science experiment manifested by Libertas, especially in such uncertain times. Their founder may rant about the anonymous bureaucratic control from Brussels but his own derring-do is, frankly, anonymous ill-defined!

It would appear from opinion polls that voters are experiencing a certain amount of 'mature reflection' with respect to The Lisbon Treaty and recovery in the context of prevailing and prospective economic prospects.

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