by Frank Schnittger
Sat May 25th, 2019 at 12:10:10 PM EST
Counting has begun in the Irish Local and European elections. Some exit polling data is also in. A constitutional amendment to liberalize further Ireland's divorce laws looks set to be carried by an overwhelming 87% to 12% if the exit polling data is to be believed.
The government has indicated that it will use this Constitutional Amendment liberalization to legislate for the automatic recognition of foreign divorces and the reduction of the waiting period for a divorce application to succeed from four years to two years of separation.
The early indications are for a surge in the Green Party vote, a near humiliation for the anti-emigration candidate, Peter Casey, in the European elections, and a disappointing performance for Leo Varadker's ruling Fine Gael Party (relative to earlier opinion polls). More left wing candidates and parties have generally performed well - though not the establishment Labour Party.
Overall, therefore, it looks like Ireland is continuing its liberalizing trend, in sharp contrast to the right wing nationalist trends in the UK and in some other parts of Europe. I will update this story as more results and hard data comes in...
Dublin has three seats rising to four if/when Brexit happens. The first three candidates elected will therefore take their seats immediately to be followed by the fourth placed candidate if/when Brexit happens. Please note the 4% margin of error in these exit poll projections which could change the narrative below considerably.
Based on these exit poll projections I would Expect Ciaran Cuffe (Green), Frances Fitzgerald (Fine Gael) and the left wing Clare Daly (Independents4Change) to be elected with Barry Andrews (Fianna Fail) joining them if/when Brexit happens. Clare Daly is likely to get more lower preference from eliminated left wing candidates to claim the third seat. Sinn Fein tends not to get as many lower preference transfer votes and so the sole incumbent standing, Lynn Boylan (Sinn Fein) is likely to lose her seat. A net gain, therefore for a Green candidate from the incumbent (not running) Nessa Childers who was an Independent with Labour and Green roots; and for a left wing candidate (Clare Daly) from a left/nationalist Sinn Fein candidate; with Fine Gael retaining their seat...
Ireland South has four seats rising to 5 if/when Brexit happens. Incumbents Sean Kelly (Fine Gael), Deirdre Clune (Fine Gael) and Liadh Ní Riada (Sinn Fein) are contesting, although both Deirdre Clune and Liadh Ní Riada could be in trouble based on these numbers. Sean Kelly (FG) and Billy Kelleher (FF) seem certain of election with the more transfer friendly Green candidate, Grace O'Sullivan likely to pick up the third seat. The fourth and last certain seat is likely to between Liadh Ní Riada (SF), Mick Wallace (I4C) and Deirdre Clune (FG) who may benefit from party colleague Andrew Doyle's transfers.
Ireland Midland's North West
European Parliament Senior Vice President and Fine Gael candidate Mairead McGuinness looks set to be the runaway winner here with well over the 20% quota required for election on the first count. Matt Carty (SF) is probably close enough to the quota to gain re-election on a reduced vote despite Sinn Fein not being as transfer friendly as some other parties. Saoirse McHugh of the Greens could be the chief beneficiaries of such transfers and could win the third seat. She was the star performer in the TV debate where she told anti-immigration candidate, Peter Casey, that "Millionaires blaming migrants is an old trope and it's boring," and that he should "Go on Dancing With The Stars if you want attention that much, Peter."
Peter Casey, who came second in the Presidential Election by weaponizing the anti-immigrant and anti-Traveling Community vote is a no-hoper on 7% of the vote. The last seat is likely to be between incumbent independent Luke 'Ming' Flanagan and Fine Fael's second candidate, Maria Walsh, who should benefit from transfers from Mairead McGuinness's surplus over the quota. Fianna Fail, on the other hand, look like being humiliated with only 9% of first preference between their two candidates, although they could benefit from Peter Casey's transfers.
The exit poll (MoE 4%) projects the following votes for the major party groupings:
Fine Gael 23% (-1%)
Fianna Fail 23% (-2%)
Sinn Fein 12% (-3%)
Labour 6% (-1%)
Social Democrats 3% (n/a)
Solidarity People Before Profit 2% (-1%)
Green Party 9% (+7%)
Independents and small parties 22% (-2%).
Basically the Greens have quadrupled their vote at the expense of just about everyone else.
Other issues polled in Exit Poll
The Exit poll (taken exclusively from voters leaving polling stations) also asked questions on a number of other issues:
- 77% In favour of United Ireland, 23% against
- 60% were in favour of measures to support the Irish language. Of those questioned, under 35-year-old's expressed the strongest support.
- 90% of voters feel that the Government needs to prioritise climate change more.
- 42% of voters trust this Government to manage the economy and public spending well.
- 70% of voters agree that on the whole immigration has benefited Irish society.
- 82% of voters say Ireland should remain a neutral country in all aspects, while a third of voters agree that Ireland should be part of "the proposed European Armed Forces."
- 85% of Irish voters are delighted that Ireland has become more liberal in recent years. And 59% of voters have indicated that they believe the country is going in the right direction.
- 89% believe there should be more policies to resolve the gap between rich and poor.
- 82% of those polled agreed that local issues such as homelessness are much more important than European issues.