Dáil Elections since 1918

This is a summary of the first 30 elections to Dáil Eireann, with a few other historical observations. I do not intend to go much further into politics in what is now the Irish Republic here, since many other sites do that in much more detail, and this web-site is generally devoted to Northern Irish elections. However this information does not seem to be easily available elsewhere on the Web. So below is a summary of the election results to each Dail since 1918, with also a few notes on the history of the Senate, the President of Ireland and the Governor-General of the Irish Free State. Suggestions and corrections, as ever, are welcome by sending me an email or filling in this form.


Dáil elections

Table of results, 1918-2002 (parties that formed the new government in bold)

1st Dáil (1918) 70 SF (no vote totals - see below)
2nd Dáil (1921) 125 SF (no vote totals - see below)
3rd Dáil (1922) 58 pro-Treaty* 35 anti-Treaty* 17 Lab 7 Fmr 11 oth*
38.5% 21.3% 21.4% 7.9%
4th Dáil (1923) 63 CnaG 44 Republicans 15 Fmr 14 Lab 17 oth**
39.0% 27.4% 12.1% 10.6%
5th Dáil (June 1927) 47 CnaG 44 FF 22 Lab 11 Fmr 8 NL 5 SF 16 oth
27.4% 26.2% 12.6% 8.9% 7.3% 3.6%
6th Dáil (Sept 1927) 62 CnaG 57 FF 13 Lab 6 Fmr 2 NL 13 oth**
38.6% 35.2% 9.1% 6.4% 1.6%
7th Dáil (1932) 72 FF 57 CnaG 7 Lab 4 Fmr 13 oth**
44.5% 35.2% 7.7% 2.0%
8th Dáil (1933) 77 FF 48 CnaG 11 NCP 8 Lab 9 oth**
49.7% 30.4% 9.2% 5.7%
9th Dáil (1937) 69 FF 48 FG 13 Lab 8 oth
45.2% 34.8% 10.3%
10th Dáil (1938) 77 FF*** 45 FG*** 9 Lab 7 oth
51.9% 33.3% 10.0%
11th Dáil ( 1943) 67 FF 32 FG 17 Lab 13 CnaT 9 Inds
41.8% 23.1% 15.7% 9.0%
12th Dáil (1944) 76 FF 30 FG 11 CnaT 8 Lab 4 Nat Lab 9 Inds
48.9% 20.5% 10.8% 8.7% 2.7%
13th Dáil (1948) 68 FF 31 FG 14 Lab 10 CnaP 7 CnaT 5 Nat Lab 12 Inds
41.9% 19.8% 8.7% 13.3% 5.5% 2.6%
14th Dáil (1951) 69 FF 40 FG 16 Lab 6 CnaT 2 CnaP 14 Inds
46.3% 25.8% 11.4% 2.9% 4.1%
15th Dáil (1954) 65 FF 50 FG 19 Lab 5 CnaT 3 CnaP 5 Inds
43.4% 32.0% 12.1% 3.1% 3.8%
16th Dáil (1957) 78 FF 40 FG 13 Lab 4 SF 3 CnaT 1 CnaP 8 Inds
48.3% 26.6% 9.1% 5.4% 2.4% 1.7%
17th Dáil (1961) 70 FF 47 FG 16 Lab 2 CnaT 2 NPD 1 CnaP 6 oth
43.8% 32.0% 11.7% 1.5% 1.0% 1.1%
18th Dáil (1965) 72 FF 47 FG 22 Lab 1 CnaP 2 Inds
47.7% 34.1% 15.4% 0.8%
19th Dáil (1969) 75 FF 50 FG 18 Lab 1 Ind
44.6% 33.3% 16.6%
20th Dáil (1973) 69 FF 54 FG 19 Lab 2 Inds
46.2% 35.1% 13.7%
21st Dáil (1977) 84 FF 43 FG 17 Lab 4 Inds
50.6% 30.6% 11.6%
22nd Dáil (1981) 78 FF 65 FG 15 Lab 2 H-Blocks 1 SFWP 5 Inds
45.3% 36.5% 9.9% 3.1% 1.7%
23rd Dáil (Feb 1982) 81 FF 63 FG 15 Lab 3 SFWP 4 Inds
47.3% 37.3% 9.1% 2.2%
24th Dáil (Nov 1982) 75 FF 70 FG 16 Lab 2 WP 3 Inds
45.2% 39.2% 9.4% 3.3%
25th Dáil (1987) 81 FF 51 FG 14 PD 12 Lab 4 WP 4 oth
44.2% 27.1% 11.9% 6.5% 3.8%
26th Dáil (1989) 77 FF 55 FG 15 Lab 7 WP 6 PD 1 Gr 5 Inds
44.2% 29.3% 9.5% 5.0% 5.5% 1.5%
27th Dáil (1992) 68 FF**** 45 FG**** 33 Lab**** 10 PD 4 DL**** 1 Gr 5 Inds
39.1% 24.5% 19.5% 4.7% 2.8% 1.4%
28th Dáil (1997) 76 FF 55 FG 17 Lab 4 PD 4 DL 2 Gr 1 SF 7 oth
39.3% 27.9% 10.4% 4.7% 2.5% 2.8% 2.5%
29th Dáil (2002) 81 FF 31 FG 20 Lab 8 PD 6 Gr 5 SF 15 oth
41.5% 22.5% 10.8% 4.0% 3.8% 6.5%
30th Dáil (2007) 77 FF 51 FG 20 Lab 6 Gr 4 SF 2 PD 6 oth
41.6% 27.3% 10.1% 4.7%
6.9% 2.7%

* in 1922, 17 pro-Treaty, 16 anti-Treaty and 4 independent TD's were elected unopposed.
** in 1923, September 1927, 1932, and 1933, 3 independent TDs were elected unopposed (representing Dublin University).
*** in 1938, 4 Fianna Fail and 2 Fine Gael TD's were elected unopposed.
**** in 1994 the Fianna Fail/Labour coalition broke down and was replaced by a Fine Gael/Labour/Democratic Left coalition.

Presidential elections

Changing role of the Senate

The Governor General

first graph.

Votes cast in Dáil elections, 1923-1997.

First Dáil (1918)

Constituted from the successful Sinn Fein candidates for the UK General Election of December 1918 (voting took place in most constituencies on 14 December). Of the 105 seats in Ireland, 73 were won by SF (25 unopposed), 22 Unionists, 6 Nationalists, 3 "Labour Unionists", 1 Independent Unionist. Three Sinn Feiners were elected in two different constituencies (Arthur Griffith, Eamon de Valera and Liam Mellows) so the numerical strength of the first Dáil was only 70 TD's.

Second Dáil (1921)

Constituted from the successful Sinn Fein candidates for the Houses of Commons of the Parliaments of Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland, 1921. (As well as a House of Commons in each there was also a Senate of Southern Ireland and a Senate of Northern Ireland). Polling for the 52 seats in the Northern Ireland House of Commons took place on 24 May; Unionists won 40, Nationalists 6 and Sinn Fein 6. No polling took place in Southern Ireland as all 128 seats were unopposed, 124 being won by Sinn Fein and the other four by Independent (ex-Unionist) candidates representing Dublin University (ie Trinity College). Five Sinn Feiners were elected in constituencies in both Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland (Michael Collins, Eamon de Valera, Arthur Griffith, Sean Milroy, and Eoin MacNeill) so the numerical strength of the Second Dáil was 125 TD's.

Third Dáil (1922)

Elected in June 1922 and now internationally recognised as the legislature of what had become the Irish Free State. In the 20 constituencies out of 28 where there was a contest, the election took place on 16 June. Sinn Fein was now split into pro- and anti- Treaty factions; 123 candidates ran on a "Coalition" platform claiming to unite the two, 65 on a pro-Treaty panel, 57 on an anti-Treaty panel and one (Dan Breen, unsuccessfully) on both. For the first time other parties stood as well. Of 128 seats, 37 were uncontested. 58 pro-Treaty SF candidates were elected (17 unopposed); 35 anti-Treaty SF (16 of whom were unopposed); 17 members of the Labour Party; 7 members of the Farmers Party; and 11 independents (of whom 4 were elected unopposed for Dublin University). The Civil War broke out almost immediately and the anti-Treaty faction boycotted the Dáil when it eventually met, so the pro-Treaty group had a secure majority of the remaining TDs and formed a government led by W.T. Cosgrave as President after the deaths of Arthur Griffith and Michael Collins.

Parenthesis: The Governor-General and the Senate

The Irish Free State had a bicameral legislature under its constitution, which came into force in December 1922. The upper house had 60 members, selected by Cosgrave and by the Dáil, who included about twenty ex-Unionists, a deliberate over-representation. The idea was that fifteen Senators (plus replacements for any casual vacancies) should be elected by popular vote every three years.
The Treaty specified that the Irish Free State should have a Governor General a la Canada. The first holder of this office was the veteran Irish Nationalist T.M. Healy, who had been an MP off and on from 1880 to 1920. His political influence waned rapidly as the new regime found its feet.

Fourth Dáil (1923)

Elected on 27 August 1923. A much expanded Dáil as a result of the implementation of the Irish Free State's constitution. Of the 153 seats, 63 were won by Cumann na nGaedheal, the new incarnation of the pro-Treaty government party; 44 by Republicans, who remained anti-Treaty and boycotted the Dáil; 15 by the Farmers Party; 14 by Labour; two short-lived micro-parties, the Businessmen's Party and the Progressive Association, elected two TD's each respectively from Dublin and Cork; two TD's described themselves as Independent Labour and there were another 10 Independents (including 3 elected unopposed for Dublin University). Republicans again boycotted proceedings so Cosgrave started with a secure government majority (though this was eroded by defections as time went on). Three TD's from three different parties shared the name Patrick Hogan, which must have confused matters. Two TDs, Michael Hayes and Eoin MacNeill, were elected for two constituencies.

Parenthesis: The 1925 Senate election

This unique event is described in detail elsewhere on this site. The result was that future Senate elections in the Irish Free State were restricted to TDs and Senators, and the rate of replacement was stepped up to twenty members plus vacancies rather than fifteen at each triennial election.

Fifth Dáil (1927a)

Elected on 9 June 1927; for the first time, all 153 seats were contested (apart from that of the outgoing Ceann Comhairle, re-elected unopposed). 47 were won by Cumann na nGaedheal (including the Ceann Comhairle); 44 by the newly formed Fianna Fáil led by Eamon de Valera, which carried the majority of the Republican support from previous elections; 22 by Labour; 11 by the Farmers Party; 8 by the National League, a short-lived attempt to revive the old Irish Nationalist Party; 5 by Sinn Feiners who did not accept de Valera's leadership; 2 by independent Republicans who disagreed with both de Valera and the rump Sinn Fein; and 14 by Independents. Cosgrave prepared to form a Cumann na nGaedheal minority government, with Fianna Fáil and Sinn Fein still boycotting the Dáil; but the assassination on 10 July of Kevin O'Higgins, a senior government minister, radicalised the situation. A short-lived law was rushed through which would deprive abstentionist members of their seats, and on 11 August the 43 Fianna Fáil TDs signed the Oath of Allegiance and entered the Dáil (one, Constance de Markievicz, had died since the election). Cosgrave called an election shortly after.

Sixth Dáil (1927b)

Elected on 15 September 1927. Of 153 seats, 62 were won by Cumann na nGaedheal (including the outgoing Ceann Comhairle); 57 by Fianna Fáil; 13 by Labour; 6 by the Farmers Party; 2 by the National League; one by an independent Labour candidate, Jim Larkin (who was disqualified after the election); and 12 by other independents (including 3 unopposed from Dublin University). Cosgrave (who had himself been elected for two constituencies, which no TD has managed since) formed a Cumann na nGaedheal government with Farmers Party support.

Parenthesis: Replacing the Governor-General

Healy's services were dispensed with, rather to his own surprise, in 1928, and he was replaced by James MacNeill, the Irish High Commissioner in London and brother of Eoin MacNeill.

Seventh Dáil (1932)

Elected on 16 February 1932 (except in Leitrim-Sligo where an outgoing TD running for re-election was shot dead during the campaign, and the vote took place on 2 March). Of 153 seats, Fianna Fáil won 72; Cumann na nGaedheal 57 (including the outgoing Ceann Comhairle); Labour 7; the Farmers Party 4; Independent Labour candidates 2; Independent Farmer 1; and other independents 10 (including 3 unopposed for Dublin University). Eamon de Valera formed a Fianna Fáil government with Labour support. The Dáil sat for less than a year before de Valera called an early election.

Parenthesis: Downgrading the Governor General

The new government was pledged to abolish all elements of the Treaty settlement which it found objectionable. Ministers lost no time in picking fights with the Governor-General over protocol issues, and he resigned in October 1932. De Valera considered, but in the end rejected, the prospects of carrying on without one, and in the end appointed Domhnall Ua Buachalla (who had stood in Kildare in every election from 1918, getting elected only in 1918, 1921 and June 1927) as "Seanascheal". Ua Buachalla carried out no public duties whatsoever apart from signing legislation into law.

Eighth Dáil (1933)

Elected on 24 January 1933. Of 153 seats, Fianna Fáil won 77 (including the outgoing Ceann Comhairle); Cumann na nGaedheal 48; the new National Centre Party (effectively a merger of the rump of the National League and the Farmers Party, led by Frank MacDermot, whose brother was married to my great-aunt Caroline) won 11; Labour won 8; Independent Labour 1; and other independents 8 (including 3 unopposed for Dublin University). Eamon de Valera formed a Fianna Fáil government with Labour support (eventually winning enough by-elections to do without).

Parenthesis: Constitutional change

With a fuller parliamentary majority, de Valera was able to abolish the Oath of Allegiance (1933), the Senate (June 1936), university representation in the Dáil (1934-36), all references to the monarch in the Constitution (December 1936, in the aftermath of the abdication of Edward VIII), and the Governor General (1937). A new Constitution was then put to referendum.

Ninth Dáil (1937)

Elected on 1 July 1937, the same day as the plebiscite which ratified the new Constitution. The Dáil was considerably reduced in size to 138 seats, of which Fianna Fáil won 69 (including the outgoing Ceann Comhairle); Fine Gael (the new party led by Cosgrave which had been formed by the merger of Cumann na nGaedheal, the National Centre Party and the extra-parliamentary Blueshirts) won 48; Labour won 13; Independent Labour candidates 2, and other independents 6. Eamon de Valera again formed a Fianna Fáil government with Labour support, and again called an early election within a year.

Parenthesis: Senate and President

The new Constitution included both a Senate and a President (NB the head of government, rather than the head of state, of the Irish Free State had been designated President; that person now became the Taoiseach). The new Senate, like the old, has 60 members, completely renewed after each Dáil election. Eleven are chosen by the new Taoiseach, three elected by graduates of Dublin University and three more by graduates of the National University, and the remaining 43 by TDs, outgoing senators and county councillors from five panels of candidates which supposedly represent different vocational interests. The Senate normally reflects the political make-up of the new government. It has not done anything interesting enough to merit further mention on this page.
The President is directly elected by the people for a seven-year term. Candidates must be nominated either by twenty members of the Dáil and/or Senate, or by nomination of four county councils, or an outgoing President can renominate himself or herself. The first President, elected unopposed in 1938, was Dr Douglas Hyde, who had been personally largely responsible for the Gaelic Revival half a century before.

Tenth Dáil (1938)

Elected on 17 June 1938. Of the 138 seats, Fianna Fáil won 77 (including the outgoing Ceann Comhairle); Fine Gael 45; Labour 9; and Independents 7. Two constituencies, Donegal West and Kerry South, were not contested; both returned two FF TD's and one from FG (the last occasion when any Dail election has been uncontested). Eamon de Valera again formed a Fianna Fáil government.

Eleventh Dáil (1943)

Elected on 23 June 1943. Of the 138 seats, Fianna Fáil won 67 (including the outgoing Ceann Comhairle); Fine Gael a dismal 32; Labour 17; Clann na Talmhan (a new farmers party which basically had split from Fianna Fáil) 13; and independents 9. Eamon de Valera again formed a Fianna Fáil minority government, and again called an early election within a year.

Twelfth Dáil (1944)

Elected on 30 May 1944. Of the 138 seats, Fianna Fáil won 76 seats (including the outgoing Ceann Comhairle); Fine Gael an all-time low of 30; Clann na Talmhan 11; a divided Labour vote produced 8 Labour TDs and 4 National Labour; and nine independents picked up the rest, Eamon de Valera again formed a Fianna Fáil government.

Parenthesis: Presidential election 1945

Hyde's retirement produced a three-way race for the presidency in June 1945 between Fianna Fáil's Sean T. O'Kelly, Fine Gael's Sean MacEoin, and independent candidate Patrick McCartan, who was supported by Labour, Clann na Talmhan, and other independents. The votes split almost exactly 50%/30%/20% between the three, with O'Kelly a mere 5,000 short of the quota, which he easily made up from McCartan's transfers.

Thirteenth Dáil (1948)

Elected on 4 February 1948. The Dáil had been expanded to 147 seats; Fianna Fáil won 68 seats (including the outgoing Ceann Comhairle); Fine Gael 31 (proportionally even less than in 1938); Labour 14; Clann na Poblachta (a new party amalgamating old IRA figures who had been marginalised by Fianna Fáil with young socialists like Noel Browne) won 10; Clann na Talmhan 7; National Labour 5; and independents 12. Astonishingly, a coalition of everyone-except-Fianna-Fáil was constructed, with the new Taoiseach John A. Costello putting an end to sixteen years of Fianna Fáil rule. However the Inter-Party Government disintegrated three years later in a Church/State row over health provision.

Parenthesis: The Republic

The new government seems to have decided soon after it was formed to declare the Irish state a Republic, and leave the British Commonwealth, though this only became public under rather confusing circumstances while Costello was visiting Canada. The description "Irish Republic" or "Republic of Ireland" is therefore only accurately applied to the state from 1949. The official name of the state is, of course, Ireland (Eire in Irish).

Fourteenth Dáil (1951)

Elected on 30 May 1951. Of the 147 seats, Fianna Fáil won 69 (including the outgoing Ceann Comhairle); Fine Gael 40; a reunited Labour Party 16; Clann na Talmhan 6; Clann na Poblachta, hit worst of all by the fall of the government, 2; and independents 14. Enough independents supported Fianna Fáil for Eamon de Valera to form a minority Fianna Fáil government; after three years they pulled the plug.

Parenthesis: Presidential election 1952

Nobody was interested in opposing O'Kelly's bid for a second term, and he was re-elected unopposed.

Fifteenth Dáil (1954)

Elected 18 May 1954, except in Wicklow where a candidate had died and the vote was postponed for a week. Of the 147 seats, Fianna Fáil won 65; Fine Gael 50; Labour 19 (including the outgoing Ceann Comhairle); Clann na Talmhan 5; Clann na Poblachta 3; and Independents 5. John A. Costello again became Taoiseach, and a Fine Gael/Labour/Clann na Talmhan inter-party government was formed, with support from Clann na Poblachta, who pulled the plug on it after three years.

Sixteenth Dáil (1957)

Elected 5 March 1957. Of the 147 seats, Fianna Fáil won 78; Fine Gael 40; Labour 13 (including the outgoing Ceann Comhairle); Sinn Fein (still abstentionist, and seeking endorsement of a renewed campaign of violence in Northern Ireland) 4; Clann na Talmhan 3; Clann na Poblachta 1; Independents 8. For the last time, Eamon de Valera formed a Fianna Fáil government.

Parenthesis: Presidential election 1959

De Valera, now aged 77, defeated Sean MacEoin by 54% to 46%. However, his proposal to switch the electoral system from proportional representation to the first-past-the-post system was rejected by 52% to 48% in a referendum held on the same day. Sean Lemass took over from De Valera as Taoiseach.

Seventeenth Dáil (1961)

Elected 4 October 1961. A constituency revision had cut the Dáil back to 144 seats, of which Fianna Fáil won 70; Fine Gael 47; Labour 16 (including the outgoing Ceann Comhairle); Clann na Talmhan 2; National Progressive Democrats (a micro-party founded by Noel Browne) 2; Clann na Poblachta 1; Independents 6. Lemass formed a minority Fianna Fáil government.

Eighteenth Dáil (1965)

Elected 7 April 1965. Of the 144 seats, Fianna Fáil won 72; Fine Gael 47; Labour 22 (including the outgoing Ceann Comhairle); Clann na Poblachta 1; and Independents 2. Lemass formed another minority Fianna Fáil government.

Parenthesis: 1966

De Valera stood in his last election in June 1966. This time his Fine Gael opponent was T.F. O'Higgins. Dev was re-elected as President, but his margin of victory was by less than 1%. Later in the year Lemass resigned as Taoiseach and leader of Fianna Fáil and was replaced by Jack Lynch.

Nineteenth Dáil (1969)

Elected 18 June 1969. Of the 144 seats, Fianna Fáil won 75 (including the outgoing Ceann Comhairle); Fine Gael 50; Labour 18; and one solitary independent, Joe Sheridan of Longford-Westmeath, made up the numbers. Lynch formed a majority Fianna Fáil government.

Twentieth Dáil (1973)

Elected 28 February 1973. Of the 144 seats, Fianna Fáil won 69 (including the outgoing Ceann Comhairle); Fine Gael 54; Labour 19; and Independents 2 (including Neil Blaney, who had resigned from Lynch's cabinet as a result of the 1970 Arms Crisis and remained in the Dáil until he died in 1996). Fine Gael and Labour formed a coalition government, ending sixteen years of Fiann Fáil rule, with Liam Cosgrave becoming Taoiseach forty-one years after his father had lost office to De Valera.

Parenthesis: Presidents

De Valera's second term as President expired in June 1973, by which time he was 91, and a third term was not envisaged. Fianna Fáil's candidate was Erskine Childers, a Protestant and former FF minister whose father had been executed during the Civil War, and T.F. O'Higgins was again the Fine Gael candidate. Childers won by 52% to 48%, but died suddenly in December 1974. The Chief Justice, Cearbhall O Dalaigh, was elected unopposed as his successor, but he then resigned in October 1976 after some rather blunt criticism from the Minister of Defence. Patrick Hillery, another former FF minister then serving on the European Commission, was elected unopposed as Ireland's sixth President (and the fourth in forty months).

Twenty-First Dáil (1977)

Elected on 16 June 1977. The Dáil had been expanded to 148 seats, and the coalition's revised constituency boundaries were widely expected to ensure its re-election. This did not happen. Fianna Fáil won 84 seats, Fine Gael 43, Labour 17 (including the outgoing Ceann Comhairle), and Independents 4 (including Noel Browne and Neil Blaney). Jack Lynch became Taoiseach again and formed a Fianna Fáil government with the largest majority since independence. he also set up an independent commission to carry out future constituency revisions. He resigned in 1979 and was repalced as Taoiseach and leader of Fianna Fáil by Charles Haughey.

Twenty-Second Dáil (1981)

Elected on 11 June 1981. The new independent commission expanded the Dáil to 166 seats (and it has remained at that size ever since). 78 were won by Fianna Fáil (including the outgoing Ceann Comhairle), 65 by Fine Gael in a dramatic increase, 15 by Labour, two by IRA prisoners in Northern Ireland (one of whom was on hunger-strike and died a few weeks after), one by Sinn Fein the Workers Party, as the former "official wing" of Sinn Fein was now called, and five by independents (including Browne and Blaney). Fine Gael and Labour had gone into the election on a coalition ticket, and formed a minority government under Garret Fitzgerald as Taoiseach. The precarious parliamentary arithmetic brought another election soon.

Twenty-Third Dáil (1982a)

Elected on 18 February 1982. Of the 166 seats, Fianna Fáil won 81, Fine Gael 63, Labour 15, Sinn Fein the Workers Party 3, and Independents 4 (including the outgoing Ceann Comhairle and also Blaney). It was now Charles Haughey's turn to form a minority Fianna Fáil government; again the parliamentary arithmetic did not sustain it, and Ireland had its third election in eighteen months.

Twenty-Fourth Dáil (1982b)

Elected on 24 November 1982. Of the 166 seats, Fianna Fáil won 75; Fine Gael an all-time record of 70; Labour 16; Sinn Fein the Workers Party, now renamed simply the Workers Party, 2; and Independents 3 (including the outgoing Ceann Comhairle and also Blaney). Garret Fitzgerald was able to form a majority coalition with Fine Gael and Labour which lasted for more than four years.

Parenthesis: Presidential election 1983

Afer this sequence of elections, there was general relief among the political classes when Hillery announced that he would seek a second term as President, and he was re-elected unopposed.

Twenty-Fifth Dáil (1987)

Elected on 17 February 1987. Of the 166 seats, Fianna Fáil won 81; Fine Gael 51 (including the outgoing Ceann Comhairle); the Progressive Democrats, a new party which had split from Fianna Fáil with a more right-wing economic policy and more secular social policies, won 14 seats; Labour won 12; the Workers Party 4; and Independents 4 (including Blaney). Haughey formed a minority Fianna Fáil government with support from Fine Gael and the Progressive Democrats. This lasted for two years.

Twenty-Sixth Dáil (1989)

Elected on 15 June 1989. Of the 166 seats, Fianna Fáil won 77; Fine Gael 55; Labour 15; the Workers Party 7; the Progressive Democrats 6; the Green Party/Comhaontas Glas 1; and other independents 5 (including the outgoing Ceann Comhairle). Fianna Fáil were forced into a coalition with the Progressive Democrats, who had split from them only a few years before. Again the coalition was led by Charles Haughey as Taoiseach.

Parenthesis: Presidential election 1990

This turned out to be the most written about and most studied election campaign in Irish history. The Fianna Fáil candidate was veteran minister Brian Lenihan; the Fine Gael candidate a recent recruit to Southern politics, the former SDLP figure Austin Currie; the independent candidate, supported by Labour, the Workers Party, and many others, was veteran civil liberties lawyer Mary Robinson. Robinson succeeded in building up a remarkable coalition of supporters, and got 39% of the first-preference votes; Lenihan, despite an ill-starred campaign that saw him sacked as foreign minister half-way through, got 44%, and Currie, who gave the impression that he had only been persuaded to stand at the last minute when Garret Fitzgerald refused to do so, managed only 17%, an all-time low for Fine Gael. Currie's second preferences went to Robinson by a considerable margin, ensuring that she was elected comfortably on the second count. The damage to Haughey's credibility as Fianna Fáil leader led effectively to his resignation early in 1992; he was replaced as Taoiseach and Fianna Fáil leader by Albert Reynolds. (The Fine Gael leader resigned immediately, having had the party's worst ever result.)

Twenty-Seventh Dáil (1992)

Elected 25 November 1992. Of the 166 seats, Fianna Fáil won 68; Fine Gael 45; the Labour Party an astonishing 33; the Progressive Democrats 10; Democratic Left (a majority faction whch had split from the Workers Party earlier in the year) 4; the Green Party/Comhaontas Glas 1; and independents 5 (including the outgoing Ceann Comhairle). General expectations were that Fine Gael and the Progressive Democrats would form a coalition with Labour; but instead Labour opted to do a deal with Fianna Fáil, keeping Albert Reynolds as Taoiseach of a government with a massive majority.
This coalition collapsed in bizarre circumstances in late 1994. Albert Reynolds was forced to resign as Taoiseach and leader of Fianna Fáil; for a few weeks it seemed possible that Bertie Ahern, the new Fianna Fáil leader, would also form another coalition with Labour, but in the end a new government was formed under John Bruton as Taoiseach, with Fine Gael, Labour and Democratic Left participation (by-election gains for all three parties meant that they now had a parliamentary majority).

Twenty-Eighth Dáil (1997)

Elected 6 June 1997. Of the 166 seats, Fianna Fáil won 76; Fine Gael 55; Labour 17; the Progressive Democrats 4; Democratic Left 4; the Green Party/Comhaontas Glas 2; Sinn Fein (this time the party linked with the IRA and led by Gerry Adams) 1; and others 7. Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats, who had run on a joint platform, formed a minority coalition, with support from a number of independents, led by Bertie Ahern.

Parenthesis: Presidential election 1997

The week after the Dáil election, it was announced that President Robinson was to be appointed the UN's High Commissioner for Human Rights. She resigned the presidency a few weeks before her term would have expired anyway. A record five candidates campaigned to succeed her. After the first count, Belfast law professor Mary McAleese, the Fianna Fáil candidate, was well in the lead with 45% of first preferences; second was Fine Gael's Mary Banotti, with 29%; third was Rosemary "Dana" Scallon, a former Eurovision song contest winner who was running effectively as the social conservative candidate , got 14%; Adi Roche, running as the joint candidate of the left-wing parties, got 7%, and Derek Nally, a former policeman who was basically running as the only male candidate, did not quite manage 5%. The second preferences of the bottom three candidates divided fairly evenly between the two front-runners, ensuring that McAleese won.

Twenty-Ninth Dáil (2002)

Elected 17 May 2002. Of the 166 seats, Fianna Fáil won 81; Fine Gael 31; Labour 21; the Progressive Democrats 8; the Green Party/Comhaontas Glas 6; Sinn Fein 5; and others 14. The FF/PD coalition became the first government to win re-election - with an increase from minority to majority government - since 1969.

Parenthesis: Presidential election 2004

After two hotly contested elections, nobody bothered to stand against President McAleese when she nominated herself for a second term, which expires in 2011.

The Thirtieth Dáil 

Elected 24 May 2007. Of the 166 seats, Fianna Fáil won 77; Fine Gael 51; Labour 20; the Green Party/Comhaontas Glas 6; Sinn Fein 4; the Progressive Democrats 2; and others 7. At the time of writing, FF are looking for coalition partners.


Thanks to Eamonn O'Brien-Strain for pointing out some slips in an earlier version.

See also: The constituencies | The political parties | Useful books and links

Results from 1996 to 2001 for each seat: East Belfast | North Belfast | South Belfast | West Belfast | East Antrim | North Antrim | South Antrim | North Down | South Down | Fermanagh and South Tyrone | Foyle | Lagan Valley | East Londonderry | Mid Ulster | Newry and Armagh | Strangford | West Tyrone | Upper Bann

Surveys of each recent election: 2004 European | 2003 Assembly | 2001 Westminster | 2001 local govt | 2000 S Antrim | 1999 European | 1998 Assembly | 1997 local govt | 1997 Westminster | 1996 Forum | 1995 N Down | 1994 European | 1993 local govt | 1992 Westminster | 1989 European | 1989 local govt | 1987 Westminster | 1986 by-elections | 1985 local govt | 1984 European | 1983 Westminster | 1982 Assembly | 1981 local govt | 1979 European | 1979 Westminster | 1977 local govt | 1975 Convention | Oct 1974 Westminster | Feb 1974 Westminster | 1973 Assembly | 1973 local govt | Summary of all Northern Ireland elections since 1973 | Brief summary of election results 1997-2003

Other sites based at ARK: ORB (Online Research Bank) | CAIN (Conflict Archive on the INternet) | Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey

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Nicholas Whyte, 8 January 2001; modified 3 June 2007

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