world : Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil lead Irish elections

world : Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil lead Irish elections
world : Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil lead Irish elections

Wednesday 12 June 2024 10:50 PM

Nafeza 2 world - Outside of the main parties, single issues have brought some new politicians to the fore.

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

It fights on behalf of homeowners whose houses are crumbling because they were built with defective concrete blocks containing high levels of the mineral, mica.

So far the party has won four council seats.

Immigration was a big issue on the doorsteps during canvassing and in Dublin, two prominent anti-immigration protestors won seats on the city council.

Independent candidate Malachy Steenson, who campaigned against the housing of asylum seekers at a former office block in Dublin's East Wall area, was elected to represent the North Inner City.

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

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

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

As counting continues, the big story from Ireland is the success of independent candidates.

Non-party representatives from all stripes have 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 at one point tipped to shake up the Irish political scene, have failed in their bid to take over local councils but may return to Europe with one MEP.

The party, who were once uncatchable in political polling, have plummeted as the party has struggled to confirm their stance on immigration and housing for asylum seekers.

Their leader, Mary Lou McDonald, said "lessons will be learned" from this experience.

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

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

Local councillors, TDs (Members of the Irish parliament); Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and even the president of Ireland are all elected via PR.

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

That means in each constituency, people can vote for as many or as few candidates as they want on the ballot paper, indicating their choices in numerical order.

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

Additionally, if a candidate receives more votes than they need to reach the election quota, their surplus votes can be redistributed, according to the voters’ preferences.

The benefits of the PR election system in contrast to a simple “first past the post” election is that PR tends to offer smaller parties and independents a better chance of winning seats against larger, more established parties.

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

But critics of the PR system argue it can result in weak coalitions coming to power, rather than a government with a strong majority which could rule decisively.

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

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