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Ireland European Election results unspun [Updated]

by Frank Schnittger Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 01:45:26 PM EST


Cross-posted from the Th!nkaboutit euroblogging campaign.

I'm out of Ireland at the moment and really missing the election buzz.  I'm a real junkey for numbers and love the complexities of the Irish single transferable vote proportional representation system. It allows voters to vote for a list of candidates in order of their preference 1,2,3,4,5,6, etc.  If the candidate who got your number one is eliminated, your vote isn't lost.  It goes to the candidate you gave your number 2 preference to. Many voters deliberately give their initial preferences to candidates they want to encourage but who they know will be eliminated.  

Their vote keeps being transferred right down their list of their preferences until it elects someone in the last count - unless all your preferences were for losing candidates. If a candidate gets more than the quota of votes required to win one of the seats in a constituency (25% +1 in a three seat constituency) then the surplus is distributed in order of their next preferences.  

The upshot of all this apparent complexity (which is remarkably well understood by the electorate as a whole) is that virtually all votes matter, there are very few constituencies where the outcome is absolutely clear beforehand, and thus every constituency is a marginal or swing constituency, and none can be safely ignored by the party campaigns.  The system also throws up a remarkable array of successful independent and minor party candidates which keeps participation relatively high and keeps at bay voter apathy based on the perception that "their all the same" or its always only a choice between "tweedledum and tweedledee" with no one else having a chance.

Finally, it discourages a polarisation of party politics, because (a) if you piss off all the other parties/candidates, you are unlikely to get many lower preferences from their voters, and (b) because no party is likely to get the c. 50% of the vote required for an overall majority, and thus will have to work with at least some of the parties they have vilified to form a coalition government.  This last factor is what has done for Sinn Fein and Libertas in this election, despite their impressive first preference vote performances.  For an analysis of the results to date, please see below.

Dublin Constituency
RTÉ News: Election 2009

European Election 2009 - DUBLIN
Status: Complete      Turnout: 50.8%      Total Valid Poll: 406,630     
Seats: 3    Quota: 101,658  Electorate: 812,465

Candidate Party %1st Pref Count 1   Count 2   Count 3   Count 4   Count 5   Count 6   Count 7    
BYRNE, Eibhlin 4.7   18956 19448 - - - - -  
DE BÚRCA, Déirdre 4.7   19086 20226 21991 - - - -  
DE ROSSA, Proinsias* 20.5   83471 85217 87274 94306 95636 103225 103225  
HIGGINS, Joe 12.4   50510 52457 53038 55116 55351 60165 82366  
McDONALD, Mary Lou* 11.8   47928 50097 50980 52447 52529 55429 -  
McKENNA, Patricia 4.3   17521 21523 22380 25213 25636 - -  
MITCHELL, Gay* 23.8   96715 99098 100810 104413 104413 104413 104413  
RYAN, Eoin* 13.6   55346 56317 66205 68517 69122 71530 76956  
SIMONS, Caroline 3.3   13514 - - - - - -  
SWEENEY, Emmanuel 0.9   3583 - - - - - -  

The key points to note here is that a right wing (Gay Mitchell - Fine Gael/EPP) and a left wing (Proinsias DE ROSSA, Labour/PES) candidate topped the poll and the third seat was a straight fight between a nationalist (soon to join ALDE) candidate (Eoin Ryan) and two even more left wing/nationalist candidates (Jim Higgins (Socialist) and sitting MEP Mary Lou McDonald (Sinn Fein).  Dublin now has a huge left wing majority and Joe Higgins eventually won because the was attracting more transfers than Mary Lou McDonald and when she was eliminated, her transfers moved him ahead of Eoin Ryan.  

The fact that the main Governing party and dominant force in Irish Politics since its formation in 1926, Fianna Fail, has failed to win a seat in the capital, is a severe blow to the credibility of Party Leader and Prime Minister Brian Cowen.  Fianna Fail also lost two bye-elections to the Irish Parliament and many local election seats.  Brian Cowen's future now rests in the hands of the Green party who also suffered heavily at the hands of an angry electorate.  The comparisons between Brian Cowen's palrlous situation and that of Gordon Brown are well made.

An interesting sub-plot is the almost complete absence of transfers from DE BÚRCA, Déirdre (Greens) to former Green MEP Patricia McKenna reflecting the bitterness of the split between the Greens and their former MEP over the issue of Coalition with Fianna Fail. Caroline Simons of Libertas scored a derisory 3%.

Ireland East Constituency

RTÉ News: Election 2009

European Election 2009 - EAST
Status: Complete      Turnout: 56.8%      Total Valid Poll: 429,249     
Seats: 3    Quota: 107,313  Electorate: 778,502

Candidate Party %1st Pref Count 1 Count 2   Count 3   Count 4   Count 5   Count 6   Count 7    
AYLWARD, Liam* 17.4   74666 74866 75124 76295 77044 99236 103605  
BYRNE, Thomas 7.2   31112 31264 31480 32276 33383 - -  
CHILDERS, Nessa 18.3   78338 78914 80145 84198 86654 89355 102220  
FUNCHION, Kathleen 6.2   26567 26647 27132 29305 43085 44422 -  
GARVEY, Paddy 0.7   2934 2945 - - - - -  
GREALY, Micheál 0.4   1514 1523 - - - - -  
McGUINNESS, Mairead* 25.7   110366 110366 110366 110366 110366 110366 110366  
O'MALLEY, Raymond 4.3   18557 18728 19396 - - - -  
PHELAN, John Paul 14.4   61851 63590 64169 67972 69608 70846 76960  
SHARKEY, Tomás 4.9   20932 21034 21461 23954 - - -  
TALLON, Jim 0.6   2412 2425 - - - - -  

This constituency was much less of a cliff hanger with relatively straightforward wins for Mairead McGuinness (Fine Gael/EPP), Liam Alward (Fianna Fail/ALDE) and Nessa Childers (Labour/PES).  This represents a pick-up for Labour from Fine Gael mainly because Nessa Childers (daughter of a former Fianna Fail President, grand-daughter of a hero of the fight for Irish Independence, and former Green party local Councilor) received a lot of transfers from other candidates.  She thus won the third seat despite the fact that, in terms of first preferences, Fine Gael had moore than twice the vote of Labour.

Ireland South [Updated]

RTÉ News: Election 2009

European Election 2009 - SOUTH
Status: Complete      Turnout: 59.2%      Total Valid Poll: 498,127     
Seats: 3    Quota: 124,532  Electorate: 861,727

Candidate Party %1st Pref Count 1   Count 2   Count 3   Count 4   Count 5   Count 6   Count 7   Count 8    
BOYLE, Dan 3.1   15499 16250 - - - - - -  
BURKE, Colm* 10.8   53721 54617 57190 57884 58654 - - -  
CROWLEY, Brian* 23.7   118258 119625 122404 132410 132410 132410 132410 132410  
FERRIS, Toiréasa 13.0   64671 65861 67304 68296 69295 73389 74480 -  
KELLY, Alan 12.9   64152 66121 69683 70309 70991 78651 83921 105597  
KELLY, Seán 18.6   92579 94430 96153 97482 98394 134712 134712 134712  
O'KEEFFE, Ned 3.3   16596 16896 17124 - - - - -  
SEXTON, Maurice 0.5   2474 - - - - - - -  
SINNOTT, Kathy* 11.7   58485 62057 64295 65518 66920 71349 75168 95134  
STAFFORD, Alexander 2.3   11692 - - - - - - -  

Brian Cowley (Fianna Fail/ALDE) on the first count, and Seán Kelly (Fine Gael/EPP) on the sixth count have been elected and the last seat is a real cliff hanger beween sitting MEP Cathy Sinnott (Independent) and Alan Kelly (Labour).  It all depends on how Toiréasa Ferris (Sinn Fein) votes transfer.  Alan Kelly is 8,000 votes ahead now, but women candidates tend to transfer preferentially to women candidates and Kathy Sinnott has proven to be a very "transfer friendly" candidate. My money is on Alan Kelly, just, but I wouldn't bet the house on it. UPDATE SOON.

[Update] As expected, Alan Kelly managed to hold on for the the last seat, giving Labour three EP seats for the first time and tripling their representation from the last Parliament.

Ireland North West [Updated}

RTÉ News: Election 2009

European Election 2009 - NORTH WEST
Status: Complete      Turnout: 63.4%      Total Valid Poll: 495,307     
Seats: 3    Quota: 123,827  Electorate: 805,626

Candidate Party %1st Pref Count 1   Count 2   Count 3   Count 4   Count 5   Count 6    
GALLAGHER, Pat The Cope 16.7   82643 84680 85842 87714 112622 120930  
GANLEY, Declan 13.7   67638 69925 72475 73994 75705 84277  
HARKIN, Marian* 17.1   84813 89938 99561 103942 112210 121672  
HIGGINS, Jim* 16.2   80093 82457 86597 111133 113810 120185  
HIGGINS, John Francis 0.6   3030 - - - - -  
KING, Thomas 0.2   1124 - - - - -  
MacLOCHLAINN, Pádraig 9.2   45515 47413 50225 52384 54737 -  
McCULLAGH, Noel 0.4   1940 - - - - -  
McNAMARA, Michael 2.6   12744 - - - - -  
MOONEY, Paschal 8.7   42985 44719 45687 47702 - -  
O'KEEFFE, Susan 5.8   28708 31176 - - - -  
Ó LUAIN, Fiachra 1.3   6510 - - - - -  
O'REILLY, Joe 7.6   37564 38854 42350 - - -  

Libertas Leader Declan Ganley requested a recount which has resulted in a delay in the counting process.  So far only a first count has been completed however the result is already clear with seats for Pat The Cope GALLAGHER (Fianna Fail/ALDE), Marian HARKIN    (Independent) and Jim HIGGINS (Fine Gael/EPP) despite an impressive 14% vote for Declan Ganley.  The reason I don't expect him to win a seat is that I don't expect him to get as many lower preference votes as the others.  (UPDATE to follow)

[Update] As expected, Declan Ganley failed to attract enough transferred lower preference votes to be elected. But isn't it remarkable how close the top three candidates were to each other on the final count? Had one of these three candidates fallen well off the pace, Ganley might just have snuck in there. My analysis

Based purely on the raw figures and without having listened to any of the discussions or surrounding analysis, my conclusions would be as follows:

1. There hasn't been a historic left-right re-alignmentin Irish politics as earlier opinion polls suggested. Labour did very well increasing its representation from 1 to 3 seats (equal to Fianna Fail) but remains in third place in terms of the popular vote.

2. Whilst not a crushing blow to Fianna Fail and the Greens, it puts extreme strain on their coalition government and it remains to be seen how long it will survive.

3. Fine Gael becomes the largest political party - when combined with their local government election wins - and senior Governing party in waiting (for the next General Election). This doesn't represent a huge ideological change, but a switch to a more cautious conservatism leery of the excesses of booming building, financial services, "pro-enterprise" policies and dubious public/private ethics of Fianna Fail which have such disastrous consequences for the economy. We live in interesting times... [End update]

The Finnish PR system for the EP election, you get to vote for only one candidate. You enter only their candidate number. However all the votes for all the candidates of a party are counted together to decide the proportion of total national votes that one party gets. The candidates with the highest votes within that party will get the seats assigned to the party. In the case of SFP last night, the party scored 6.1% of the total national vote, giving it one seat. That seat went to the SFP candidate with the most individual votes.

It is slightly more complicated than that (13 seats means 7.69% per seat) in the way the seats are split - but it is simple in essence.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 02:29:51 PM EST
Ganley gamble backfires as Libertas lose votes

Libertas leader Declan Ganley lost 3,000 votes in the European Parliament poll after his demand for an investigation into the allocation of ballots embarrassingly backfired.

The multi-millionaire businessman delayed counting at the North West constituency for nine hours after alleging that as many as 11,000 of his votes were given to a rival.

However, a systematic spot-check of the half a million votes at the count centre in Castlebar, Co Mayo, found that his first preference was 67,638, rather than the 70,638 originally declared.

by det on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 03:19:40 PM EST
He's conceded and, allegedly, quit politics.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 03:40:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
well the money spent in the UK by Libertas was effective.... ;)

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 03:43:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
RTÉ News: Elections 2009 - Ganley quits politics after conceding NW seat
Declan Ganley has conceded that he will not take a seat in the North West constituency and will now 'bow out of political life'.

Arriving at the count centre in Castlebar this evening, Mr Ganley said he accepted that people had not given him a mandate to represent them in the European Parliament.

He also stated he would play no part in the second Lisbon referendum, saying it remained to be seen whether Libertas as an organisation would be involved.

Last night, the Libertas leader had requested a recheck of ballots in the North West amid concerns that some of its votes may have been inadvertently allocated to other candidates.

However, that recheck found that Mr Ganley had been awarded 3,000 extra votes in error.

The 3,000 votes - for Independent candidate Fiachra O'Luain - were found in the Libertas bundles and Mr O'Luain's first count total has now been revised upwards accordingly.

Mr O'Luain said he is now asking gardaí in Castlebar to investigate how his votes ended up in Mr Ganley's bundles.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 04:52:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How many polling stations are involved here?

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 05:25:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
On fourth of Ireland is involved here.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 05:27:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, but 3000 votes counted wrong in a single precinct smells like fraud a lot more than 3000 votes counted wrong in a hundred different precincts does.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 05:33:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I may be mistaken, but I assume the multiple rounds of the single transferable vote count are conducted centrally -- or at least the summing up of local counts.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 05:39:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, it would appear O'Luain's and Ganley's counted votes were being stored adjacent to each other, and some bundles were misplaced prior to summation. Incompetence trumps malice once once.
by ectoraige on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 09:20:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'll point out that Jim Higgins is pretty popular personally in Dublin. A lot of people were surprised and disappointed that he lost his Dail seat at the last general election. I wouldn't read too much ideological into his election!
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 02:19:46 AM EST
You meant to say "Joe Higgins".
by ectoraige on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 03:53:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You're right, I did.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 04:07:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You're right to point out the huge personality factor in Irish elections, but Joe Higgins has been pretty apologetically left wing in all his policy pronouncements - well to the left of Labour - and thus the very fact that such a politician is electable when De Rossa has already hoovered up the bulk of the left wing vote is in my view significant.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 12:48:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The final swedish vote count is not finished yet - what was seen on election night was the preliminary count. Even so, with more then half of the precincts having reported in we find among the handwriten ballots:

Libertas      25
Libertas Sverige      8
libertas      2

If you fail to register a ballot each handwritten variant is counted as a vote for a seperate party. If they had succeeded in this fairly simple step they would now have 35 votes. Bit short of a seat though, even if the count is ongoing.

If the irish party paneuropean party Libertas paid the clown that represented them here any money, well that was a total waste.

Other funnies:

UK Independence      1
Toknazism hela dan      1

Last one is translated to "Crazy nazism all day". I am fairly certain they will not get more then one vote.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 03:54:05 PM EST

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