Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil lead as counting continues

PA A counter at Nemo Rangers GAA club in CorkPA

A counter at Nemo Rangers GAA club in Cork

With fewer than 50 council seats left to claim in Ireland’s local elections, the two largest government parties are trailing their rivals.

Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael both have 234 seats.

Independent candidates are doing well – they won 177 seats in the council.

The main opposition party, Sinn Féin, has so far won 99 seats, less than half as many as its government rivals and well below its own target of 200. The Labor Party has 55 seats and the Social Democratic Party has 35 seats.

Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald admitted she was “disappointed” by her party’s election result but confirmed she was disappointed. has no plans to resign as party leader.

A total of 949 council seats will be filled across 31 local authorities.

The Green Party has 23 seats so far, People Before Profit-Solidarity has 13 seats and Aontú 8 seats.

The current Irish government has been in place since June 2020, when Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Green Party voted to form a coalition together.

Vote counting is also taking place for the European parliament elections and the Limerick city mayoral race.

Ireland has three constituencies The EU sent 14 MEPs to Brussels, but none of those seats have yet been declared.

‘Widespread satisfaction’

Fianna Fáil MEP Barry Andrews told BBC News NI’s Good Morning Ulster that local election results so far showed there was “momentum for the government parties”.

“It tells you that everyone is happy with what the government is doing,” he said.

“The fact that the center is holding is good news, especially when you look at what is happening across the EU, where there is strong growth on the far right.”

Fine Gael senator Emer Currie added that it was a “fun evening for the party”.

“We are bringing stability, showing the importance of centrist and moderate politics. We are investing in the community and people are seeing that.

“There is enough room in the center for Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.”

PA Barry AndrewsPA

Fianna Fail European election candidate Barry Andrews

Meanwhile, Green Party leader Eamon Ryan told the BBC that the government parties had generally had “a successful campaign”.

However, he added that the Green Party would lose “a large number of seats” in local elections compared to the 2019 results.

“We were expecting it because 2019 was a really important milestone for environmental politics across Europe,” he said.

“However, by holding our ground in many constituencies and having a chance of winning two seats in the European elections, we remain very strong.”

By mid-morning Monday, the Green Party had won 21 seats in the council.

PA Eamon Ryan and Ciaran CuffePA

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan (left) and Green Party candidate in the European elections Ciaran Cuffe at the vote count

Sinn Féin is disappointed

Sinn Féin expected more councilors to be elected to local authorities than in the previous local election, but has so far failed to secure the desired number.

Commentators have suggested The party has too many candidates causing its votes to be spread too thinly.

There are also internal concerns that Sinn Féin has not made its immigration policy clear enough to voters.

Its leader Ms McDonald said she would lead a full review of Sinn Féin’s operations.

Sinn Fein TD Padraig MacLochlainn emphasized that the party had “won seats across the state but not at the level we expected”.

“The last local elections in 2019 were quite disastrous for Sinn Fein,” he said.

“This election was always about catching up. We did not get back the amount of land we wanted.”

New voices interrupted

Outside the main parties, single issues have brought a number of new politicians to the forefront.

In County Donegal, the newly formed 100% Redress Party has fielded six candidates as part of a campaign to secure compensation for victims of the mica scandal.

It fights on behalf of homeowners whose homes are dilapidated because they were built with defective concrete blocks containing high levels of mica minerals.

Hitherto they won three council seats and are confident of placing fourth.

Immigration was a major issue on the doorstep during the campaign and in Dublin, two high-profile anti-immigrant protesters won seats on the city council.

Independent candidate Malachy Steenson, who campaigned against providing housing for asylum seekers at a former office block in the East Wall area of ​​Dublin, has been elected to represent the Inner City North.

Gavin Pepper, who has protested at several proposed migrant accommodation sites, has been elected for the Ballymun-Finglas ward.

Analysis – Aoife Moore, BBC News NI Dublin correspondent

In Ireland, the more things change, the more things stay the same.

The current government party Fine Gael is now the largest party in local government, taking over from their counterparts in the Fianna Fáil government.

As the vote count continues, Ireland’s big story is the success of independent candidates.

Non-party representatives from all walks of life swept the boards, in both rural and urban areas. In Europe, a similar story has emerged.

Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, both centrist parties, are likely to be the first announced MEPs to return to Brussels.

Sinn Féin, who were once tipped to shake up Irish politics, failed in their bid to take over local councils but could return to Europe with an MEP.

The party, once unmatched in political polls, has fallen as it struggles to assert its stance on immigration and housing for asylum seekers.

Their leader, Mary Lou McDonald, said “lessons will be learned” from the experience.

This was her second disappointing local and European election since taking over from Gerry Adams in 2018.

PA People count votes at the Royal Dublin Society during the counting of votes for the European electionsPA

People count votes at the Royal Dublin Society during the counting of votes for the European elections

What is proportional representation/STV?

Reuters European and local ballots are separated before counting begins at a local election counting center in DublinReuters

Irish voters have a long list of candidates to choose from in many constituencies

The Republic of Ireland uses a voting system called proportional representation (PR) in all of its elections.

Local councillor, TD (Member of the Irish parliament); Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and even the president of Ireland are elected through PR.

Under the PR system, each voter has a single transferable vote (STV).

That means that in each electoral district, people can vote for as many or as few candidates as they like on the ballot, indicating their choices in numerical order.

The PR-STV system means that if a voter’s preferred candidate is eliminated because they have too few first preference votes, those votes can be redistributed to the remaining candidates, based on on voters’ second preferences, etc

Additionally, if a candidate receives more votes than necessary to reach the electoral quota, their excess votes can be redistributed, depending on voter preferences.

The benefit of a PR electoral system as opposed to a “first after” election is that PR tends to give smaller parties and independents a better chance of winning seats against larger parties , is older.

It also gives voters more say in who represents them because they can indicate alternative preferences if their first-choice candidate has little hope of winning.

But critics of the PR system say it could lead to weak coalitions coming to power, rather than a government with a strong majority that can rule decisively.

They also argue that PR allows parties to maintain power by forming new coalitions, even when their popularity has declined.


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