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EIRE ELECTION 2007 May 26, 2007

Posted by wmmbb in European Politics.

The Irish election was held on Thursday, and the results will not be clear until this morning. So what is going on?

The ABC Online got it right. It is going to be a close result, even as the participation was up this time compared to the last election five years ago. The Jamaica Gleaner reports:

Irish voters headed for the polls [on Thursday] in an election so close that Prime Minister Bertie Ahern may have to lure a major left-leaning opponent on to his side if he is to stay in power.

Having repeatedly ruled out entering a coalition with Ahern, Labour Party leader Pat Rabbitte left the door open to a deal, telling Reuters he did not look forward to the prospect but that he was keen to keep IRA political ally Sinn Fein out of power.”I don’t want to see Sinn Fein driving economic policies or other policies,” Rabbitte said in an interview after casting his vote in his Dublin constituency.Sinn Fein, which entered a ground-breaking power-sharing government in partitioned Northern Ireland this month, is set to make gains in the election in the south after Irish Republican Army (IRA) guerrillas vowed to down arms in 2005.

It seems odd to me that anybody would consider holding an election on Thursday. The French and some other European countries hold their elections on Sunday – still odd bu makes more sense. Now it seems that Gerry Adams, not only a candidate in these elections but a party leader for Sinn Fein has the same idea. He argued that voting on Thursday would reduce the vote of the lower socio-economic income groups.

The Single Transferable Vote in multi-member constituencies is explained here. Electoral districts do not necessary have the same number of seats, so quotas have to worked out on a seat by seat basis. The Irish Times also took the trouble to explain how the vote could be used strategically among other aspects and the place of the Dail in the political system.

The Irish seem content with the tradition pencil and paper ballot, and diavow those new fanlgled voting machines that had a run in the recent French Election. So it seems whatever decision is made in the ballot booth, they take their time over the result, and that, somewhat like MMP system in NZ, set the scene for political deals between the parties to form a government and gain the prizes of office. I, on balance, prefer such transparent deal making, and why should not minor parties have both the responsibilites and perks of government?

Update: 27 May 2007

Now it seems the vote has been finally counted and Finna Fail has 78 seats out of the Dails 166, which means they will be looking for six or more seats to form the government. The BBC has the results of the protracted election count.



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