Monthly Archives: June 2009
Welcome to Live Blogging of the 2009 Euro elections.
A number of countries vote today in the Euros, though many more vote tomorrow. Only the Dutch have taken the risk to publish Euro results before they were technically allowed to, while the Brits and Irish who voted before-yesterday and yesterday respectively have not published their Euro results (they will do so tommorrow, when all 26 other countries do so).
However, local elections were held in England and Ireland (where there were also two by-elections).
The Conservatives have won a landslide in the local elections (27 county councils, 3 old unitary authorities, 5 new unitary authorities, and 3 directly-elected Mayors). According to the BBC, the figures for seats and councillors for all these authorities (except the Isles of Scilly, where all are Indies) are the following:
Conservative 1,476 councillors (+233) winning 30 councils (+7)
Liberal Democrats 473 councillors (-4) winning 1 council (-1)
Labour 176 councillors (-273) winning 0 councils (-4)
Independents 95 councillors (+6)
Green 16 councillors (+6)
Residents Associations 9 councillors (+2)
UKIP 6 councillors (+6)
Mebyon Kernow 3 councillors (±0)
BNP 3 councillors (+3)
Liberal 2 councillors (±0)
Others 28 councillors (+13)
No Overall Control winning 3 councils (-2)
The BBC has done a “projected PV share” estimate, which is quite worthless (anybody applying it to a general election is a useless tool) and probably very flawed. The Tories would have 38% (44 in 2008), the LibDems 28% (25 in 2008), and Labour 23% (24 in 2008). However, do note that the 2008 figure is based on entirely different councils, so the 2005 estimate is a much better comparison. The 2005 result is not available.
Anyways, Labour has suffered a very humiliating defeat. What is most striking is Labour’s total rout in some of its strongholds. In Lancashire, Labour fell from 44 seats in 2005 to 16 today (the Conservatives gained 18, the LibDems also gained 6). In Staffordshire, a Labour-held council, Labour is now the fourth party. It fell from 32 seats in 2005 to just 3 today (the Conservatives have gained the council with 49 seats, the LibDems and UKIP have four each). Other Labour council loses are Derbyshire (-16 seats for Labour), Nottinghamshire (-22).
The Liberal Democrats have picked up Bristol from NOC (they were the largest party before though). However, they have performed very poorly in Cornwall (where they hold all 5 – or 6 on new boundaries – seats in Westminster). They controlled the old Cornwall County Council, and today the Conservatives are by far the largest party with 50 seats (38 LibDem, 32 Indies and 3 Mebyon Kernow – a party which wants a devolved assembly and greater self-governance for Cornwall). This is certainly a bad sign for the LibDem incumbents in Westminster.
The other NOC councils are Cumbria (38 Con [+6], 24 Lab [-16], 16 LDs [+6], 5 Ind [+2], 1 Other [+1]) and Bedford, a new unitary authority (13 LDs, 9 Con, 7 Ind, 7 Lab).
This does not smell good for Labour in the Euros, and the UKIP and BNP’s local gains do smell good for them tomorrow.
On a negative note for all (although that may end up a positive note for certain parties), turnout was at joke levels. Around 20% for the Euros (the UK had a decent turnout by British standards for the 2004 Euros – 38%), which is close to 1999 levels (23%). In the locals, turnout was 30% (low turnout in locals is not a surprise or an abnormality in British electoral life). In Glasgow, turnout was 7% (yes, 93% did not vote).
In Northern Ireland, rumours have it that Sinn Féin has topped the poll (an excellent result for them which I did not see coming) due to a strong performance by incumbent “Traditionalist Unionist” MEP Jim Allister against his old Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). It seems that Sinn Féin’s Bairbre de Brún has made the quota by first count, while the DUP gets the second seat but without reaching the quota. The third seat is a thing to watch between the Conservative and Unionist (Conservative + Ulster Unionist [UUP]) MEP Jim Nicholson, the nationalist Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) candidate Alban Macginness and Allister. These, however, are just rumours.
Ireland Locals and By-Elections
Ireland also voted in local elections (counties, county borough, city and town councils) and two by-elections for the the Irish lower house, the Dáil. Again, the government has suffered a humiliating defeat by the looks of the exit polls.
The local elections exit poll from RTÉ.
Fine Gael 34% (+6.5%)
Fianna Fáil 24% (-8%)
Labour 17% (+5.5%)
Sinn Féin 9% (+1%)
Green Party 3% (-1%)
The current standings (190 seats out of 883)
Fine Gael 72 seats
Labour 46 seats
Fianna Fáil 30 seats
Others and Indies 29 seats
Sinn Féin 13 seats
In the Dáil by-elections, the counts are almost over.
Dublin South (Quota: 26,019)
George Lee (Fine Gael) 53.4% (+26.1% on 2007) / 27,768 votes
Alex White (Labour) 19.8% (+9.4%)
Shay Brennan (Fianna Fáil) 17.8% (-23.6%)
Elizabeth Davidson (Green) 3.5% (-7.5%)
Shaun Tracey (Sinn Féin) 3.3% (+0.3%)
Ross O’Mullane (Ind) 1.2%
Frank O’Gorman (Ind) 0.7%
Noel O’Gara (Ind) 0.3%
Fine Gael GAIN from Fianna Fáil
Dublin Central, Count One (Quota: 14,207)
Maureen O’Sullivan (Ind Gregoryite) 26.9% (+13.5% on Gregory 2007) / 7,639 votes
Paschal Donoghue (Fine Gael) 22.7% (+13.1%)
Ivana Bacik (Labour) 17.3% (+4.8%)
Christy Burke (Sinn Féin) 13.3% (+4.1%)
Maurice Ahern (Fianna Fáil) 12.3% (-32.2%)
David Geary (Green) 2.9% (-2.9%)
Patrick Talbot (Immigration Control) 2.2% (+1.5%)
Malachy Steenson (Workers’ Party) 1.8%
Paul O’Loughlin (Christian Solidarity) 0.7% (-0.04%)
On count 8, O’Sullivan has won without a quota. She has 13,739 votes against 10,198 for Donoghue. Therefore: Independent HOLD.
These results are a very bad result for Fianna Fáil, and this should be confirmed by the Euro counts. Talking about the Euros, RTÉ does have an exit poll out:
Fine Gael 30% (+2.2%)
Fianna Fáil 23% (-6.5%)
Labour 16% (+5.5%)
Sinn Féin 12% (+0.9%)
Libertas 4% (new)
Socialist 3% (+1.5%)
Green Party 2% (-2.3%)
The rumours say that Declan Ganley has performed quite well in North West. In the East, FG and Labour seem assured a seat each though the third seat is close between Aylward (FF) and Phelan (FG). Fine Gael will be hoping that Phelan wins to prevent an explanation of why they lost a seat there. In the South, Crowley (FF) and Seán Kelly (FG) are assured re-election and the third seat is too close to call. In Dublin, Mitchell (FG) and deRossa (Lab) are safe while the third seat is up in the air between SF, FF and the Socialist leader Jim Higgins.
Turnout in the locals is 55% – turnout in the 2004 Euros was 59%
Related to tommorrow’s big day, I hope to be able to live blog results if possible.
The Netherlands, which has 25 MEPs (down from 27) voted today, the first country, along with the United Kingdom, to vote in these European elections.
The Netherland, which you probably know for it’s legal drugs, prostitution, gay marriage and the like, has a number of political parties. The two main parties, currently coalition partners (along with a smaller party) are the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) and Labour (PvdA). The CDA is a modern slightly conservative Christian democratic party, with strongest support from Catholics (26-31% of the population) in Southern Brabant and Limburg. Labour has become a party very similar to the New Labour in the United Kingdom and is based in the Dutch working class, in cities, and the northeastern provinces of Groningen, Friesland, and Drenthe.
The People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy, most commonly known as VVD, is a centre-right strongly neo-liberal party that is generally more conservative-leaning on social issues. While the current VVD leader, Mark Rutte, is a social liberal, the VVD has a strongly anti-immigration conservative-populist wing (though that wing often splits off into splinter parties).
The GreenLeft (GroenLinks) is the main green party, which is “left-green” party – very socially liberal, youth-oriented, pro-immigration, anti-nuclear and so forth. The GroenLinks are especially strong in large university towns and in the homosexual community. The Socialist Party (SP) was founded as a Marxist party, though it has become a democratic-socialist party attracting a number of left-wing voters who used to support the PvdA when the PvdA was more left-wing.
The Netherlands have two Protestant “testimonial” parties – the ChristianUnion and the Reformed Political Party (SGP). The ChristianUnion is socially conservative, though it has more left-wing economic, immigration/international aid and environmental policies. ChristianUnion is a member of the current government. The SGP is probably one of the craziest party in the world – though its legislators are not raving lunatics and are quite sane in debates apparently. The SGP is radically pro-life, against television-radio, gambling, vaccinations, women’s suffrage (women and men are of equal value, but not equal. Women membership was forbidden until 2006), freedom of religion, pro-death penalty and closes its website on Sundays. The SGP also supports a theocracy, and therefore rejects any participation in any government.
In radical opposition to the SGP you have Democrats 66 (D66), an economically centrist and socially liberal/libertarian party, which is also strongly “green” and pro-Europe (favouring a federal Europe). D66 has a very volatile young (female and well-educated) electorate, with lows at 1% and highs at 14-15%.
The new force in Dutch politics is the Party for Freedom (PVV) founded by VVD populist Geert Wilders. Wilders and the PVV are known for their radically anti-Islam policies, they support a halt of immigration from non-western countries and are very assimilationist. It is economically liberal (tax cuts, no minimum wage, limiting child benefits). Wilders seems to be the heir to the heritage of the late Pim Fortuyn, an anti-immigration (although socially liberal) politician whose paty (LPF) had a rapid rise (and fall, following his assasination). However, Wilders is much more radical than Fortuyn.
Lastly, the Party for the Animals (PvdD), an animal rights party, has two seats in the Lower House. The PvdD is the only animal rights party in the world with parliamentary representation.
The results of the last 2004 Euro election was:
CDA 24.43% (-2.51%) winning 7 seats (-2)
Labour 23.60% (+3.48%) winning 7 seats (+1)
VVD 13.20% (-6.49%) winning 4 seats (-2)
GroenLinks 7.39% (-4.46%) winning 2 seats (-2)
Europe Transparent 7.33% winning 2 seats
Socialist 6.97% (+1.93%) winning 2 seats (+1)
ChristianUnion/SGP 5.87% (-2.86%) winning 2 seats (-1)
D66 4.25% (-1.55%) winning 1 seat (-1)
Party for the Animals 3.22%
The Netherlands has already released progressive count results and as of now, the results are as follows:
CDA 20% winning 5 seats (-2)
PVV 16.9% winning 5 seats
Labour 12.2% winning 3 seats (-4)
D66 11.3% winning 3 seats (+2)
VVD 11.3% winning 3 seats (-1)
GroenLinks 8.8% winning 2 seats (nc)
Socialist 7.1% winning 2 seats (nc)
ChristianUnion/SGP 7% winning 2 seats (nc)
Party for the Animals 3.5%
Turnout is stable at 40% (39.26% in 2004).
A great night for the PVV, an horrible night for the governing parties (CDA and PvdA, less so for CU). The Socialists have also fallen about 10% since they won a surprising 16% in the 2006 elections. And the D66 is now in an upswing period, after years of near death (which come when D66 joins government coalitions).
For fun, results in Amsterdam:
Amsterdam: D66 21.2%, GL 20%, Labour 14.7%, PVV 12.7%, VVD 9.2%, SP 8%, Animals 5.3%, CDA 4.9%
This is the first post in a very, very long and slow series on the European election results. And this is probably not the last you hear of the Netherlands.
Spain will elect its 50 MEPs to the European Parliament on June 7, 2009. This is Spain’s seventh European election and sixth regular election (Spain voted in a by-election in 1987 after it joined the EU in 1986). Spain has lost 4 seats since 2004, and it had lost 10 seats prior to the 2004 election.
Spanish politics are very polarized. The governing party is the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE), or the Socialist Party, which is led by current Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero; and the Popular Party (PP), the main conservative party and ancestor of old right-wing Franquist groups, led by Mariano Rajoy. Spain’s Communist Party (PCE) is the largest party in the old United Left (IU) coalition. The IU (and by consequence the PCE) has gone down the road of rapid decline common to most Communist Parties in Western Europe since the fall of the Wall. The PSOE, PP and IU are the three-major nationwide parties, though the new Union, Progress and Democracy (UPyD), a socially liberal though strongly anti-federalist and anti-nationalist party has a seat in the Spanish lower house and seems to be posting some important gains.
Spain is also famous for its Basque and Catalan nationalists, though there also exists similar nationalist movements in other regions such as Galicia or the Canary Islands. The main Catalan nationalist party is known as Convergence and Union (CiU), in fact a coalition of liberal and conservative nationalist parties. However, the CiU has an ambiguous position on independence, and attracts nationalists but also autonomists. The left-wing Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) is clearly pro-independence. In the Basque Country, the main nationalist party remains the Basque Nationalist Party (EAJ-PNV), which is centre-right. However, smaller left-wing nationalist parties also exist, such as Basque Solidarity (EA), Aralar, or the various names adopted by the ETA’s political branch, Batasuna. One of those names is Euskal Herritarrok (EH) or the Communist Party of the Basque Homeland. However, these recent fronts have been banned by the Spanish government.
The last Euro election in June 2004 was held shortly after Zapatero’s PSOE defeated the governing PP after the May 12, 2004 Madrid train bombings. Zapatero went on to win re-election in 2008.
PSOE (PES) 43.46% winning 25 seats (+1)
PP (EPP) 41.21% winning 24 seats (-3)
Galeusca Coalition 5.15% winning 2 seats (-3)
United Left 4.72% winning 2 seats (-2)
Europe of Peoples Coalition 2.45% winning 1 seat (-1)
European Coalition 1.27% winning 0 seats (-2)
EH won one seat in 1999, but did not run in 2004. The Galeusca coalition was composed of the CiU, the Basque EAJ and the Galician BNG. The Europe of Peoples coalition was the left-wing (more radical) alliance composed of the ERC, the Basque EA and smaller parties from other regions. The European Coalition was composed of the Canarian CC and smaller parties from other regions. This elections, the new nat coalitions are CEU, Coalición por Europa, which is the new alliance formed between the 2004 Galeusca-Pueblos de Europa and Coalición Europea. This is the right-wing alliance of nats (Basque EAJ, Catalonian CiU from Galeusca + CC, minor Valencian, Majorcan, and Andalusian nats from CE). The Galician BNG, which was part of Galeusca (thus the Gal) in 2004 is now in the left-wing alliance of nats, Europa de los Pueblos (EdP) which includes the tiny Spanish Greenies. EdP includes the Catolonian ERC, BNG, the leftie Basque nats (Aralar and EA), and smaller nats from Majorca and Aragon.
Spain is currently one the EU members worst hit by the economic crisis – Latvia being the other major victim in the EU. Spanish unemployment is around 17.4%, the highest in the European Union. The most pessimists say that it could very well hit 20% by the end of 2009. You would normally expect a government governing one of the worst economic situations in Europe (and the world) and presiding over nearly 20% unemployment to be in awful shape in polls. However, due to the polarized nature of Spanish politics, you have a relatively close political makeup. The PP is between 40 and 42% in polls, the PSOE is between 38 and 42%. The reason the PP can’t take off is because the legacy of el caudillo, Francisco Franco, still polarizes Spanish opinion. A number of conservatives (whose family opposed Franco) would never bring themselves to vote for the PP, which has Franquist roots (though the party itself doesn’t play on those). At the same time, people would never vote for the evil communist-socialist PSOE. In addition, the PP and PSOE’s electorates are pretty rock-solid and they show relatively little movement once solidly in place.
In terms of polling for minor parties, the CEU will likely hold Galeusca’s two seats (one CiU, one EAJ) and EdP will do likewise (one ERC). The IU’s seat predictions are really fluctuating between a loss of one or no net gains (2 seats or 1). The UPyD is given one seat by a vast majority of pollsters.
The top candidates for the major parties are Juan Fernando López Aguilar, Minister of Justice until 2007 for the PSOE; Jaime Mayor Oreja, a Basque deputy and former rabidly anti-nationalist Minister of Interior for the PP; Ramon Tremose of the CiU for CEU; Oriol Junqueras of the ERC for EdP; Willy Meyer, an MEP, for IU; and Francisco Sosa Wagner for UPyD. Libertas’ Spanish outfit is the Catalan Citizens, a liberal anti-nationalist (kind of like UPyD) in Catalonia.
Greenland voted to renew it’s 31-seat Landsting yesterday, an early election following a 2008 referendum on self-government, which is due to come into effect very soon. The election opposed the social democratic Siumut (Forward), which has ruled Greenland since home rule in 1979 and the separatist socialist Inuit Ataqatigiit (Inuit Community). Other parties include the anti-independence social liberal Demokraatit (Democrats), based in the ethnic Danish community, and Atassut (Solidarity), an anti-independence conservative-liberal party and the local partner of the ruling Danish Venstre (Liberals).
Inuit Ataqatigiit 43.7% (+19.3%) winning 14 seats (+7)
Siumut 26.5% (-3.9%) winning 9 seats (-1)
Democrats 12.7% (-9.9%) winning 4 seats (-3)
Atassut 10.9% (-9.0%) winning 3 seats (-3)
Independents 3.8% (-0.2%) winning 1 seat (±0)
Red for IA, green for Siumut and purple for the Democrats.
This is an historic defeat for Greenland’s Siumut, which was the island’s natural governing party since home-rule in 1979. In a symbolic defeat for the party, Jonathan Motzfeldt, Premier for 17 years failed to win a seat in the Landsting. The more radical separatist IA is two seats short of a majority, and will probably cobble together a coalition to replace the outgoing Siumut-Atassut coalition. Siumut is already certain of being “out” of any coalition deal, so they will sit on the opposition benches for the first time.
The only municipality to vote for the Democrats was Ivittuut municipality, entirely composed of the Danish naval base in Kangilinnguit, whose population is mostly military personnel. This was also the only place to vote NO in 2008 to self-government. The town Pituffik (Thule Airbase), counted in Nuuk municipality gave over 66% to the Democrats. As in 2008, the blue part is a national park with a bunch of polar bears.
European elections in the United Kingdom will be held on June 4, 2009, at the same time as local elections in England.
Euro elections in the UK are held in twelve regional constituencies with a threshold of 5% in each, with seats allocated through proportional representation. Only Northern Ireland uses the single-transferable vote system, which is also used in all other Northern Irish elections. Prior to 1999, the UK was the only European country to elect MEPs via FPTP. The table below outlines these constituencies and the the changes in seat numbers since 2004. For reference, the UK’s delegation has been reduced from 75 to 72.
South East England: 10 seats (nc)
London: 8 seats (-1)
North West England: 8 seats (-1)
East of England: 7 seats (nc)
South West England: 7 seats (-1)
West Midlands: 6 seats (-1)
Yorkshire and the Humber: 6 seats (nc)
Scotland: 6 seats (-1)
East Midlands: 5 seats (-1)
Wales: 4 seats (nc)
North East England: 3 seats (nc)
Northern Ireland: 3 seats (nc)
As you probably know very well, the United Kingdom’s two main parties are Labour, a social democratic party that moved away from its left-wing socialist roots under Tony Blair to become a third way “New Labour”; and the Conservatives, typical European conservatives but also strongly opposed to European federalism and generally seen as Euroskeptic. Indeed, the Conservative Party, along with the Czech Civic Democrats, are members of the European Democrats party (which sits in the EPP-ED group in Parliament). The Liberal Democrats, founded by a merger of the old Liberal Party and the Social Democratic Party in 1988, are social liberals and generally economically liberal (though the LibDems are not like the German FDP). The LibDems are the most strongly pro-EU party, and are also anti-Iraq war and have recently added a green liberal flair. The UK Independence Party (UKIP) is active mostly in Euro elections and favours the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union (a position not adopted by other Euroskeptic parties, such as the MPF in France). While the UKIP has other policies, it’s staunch opposition to the EU is it’s main and most famous position. The Green Party is also Euroskeptic, and strongly left-wing. The Scottish nationalists (SNP) and the Welsh nationalists (Plaid Cymru) have representation both in Bruxelles and in Westmister, and the SNP is currently the leading party in Scotland’s devolved Parliament. The British National Party, a far-right white nationalist/populist party, which has a very bad name, justifiably, is also active but has no representation in either Bruxelles or Westminster.
The results of the 2004 election:
Conservative (ED) 26.7% (-9%) winning 27 seats (-8)
Labour (PES) 22.6% (-5.4%) winning 19 seats (-6)
UKIP (ID) 16.1% (+9.2%) winning 12 seats (+10)
Liberal Democrats (ELDR) 14.9% (+2.3%) winning 12 seats (+2)
Green Party (EGP) 6.3% (nc) winning 2 seats (nc)
British National Party (Euronat) 4.9% (+3.9%)
Respect (EACL) 1.5% (new)
Scottish National Party (EFA) 1.4% (-1.3%) winning 2 seats (nc)
Plaid Cymru (EFA) 1% (-0.9%) winning 1 seat (-1)
Results by region:
South East England: 4 Con, 2 UKIP, 2 LibDem, 1 Lab, 1 Green
London: 3 Con, 3 Lab, 1 LibDem, 1 UKIP, 1 Green
North West England: 3 Lab, 3 Con, 2 LibDem, 1 UKIP
East of England: 3 Con, 2 UKIP, 1 Lab, 1 LibDem
South West England: 3 Con, 2 UKIP, 1 LibDem, 1 Lab
West Midlands: 3 Con, 2 Lab, 1 UKIP, 1 LibDem
Yorkshire and the Humber: 2 Lab, 2 Con, 1 LibDem, 1 UKIP
Scotland: 2 Lab, 2 SNP, 2 Con, 1 LibDem
East Midlands: 2 Con, 2 UKIP, 1 Lab, 1 LibDem
Wales: 2 Lab, 1 Con, 1 Plaid
North East England: 1 Lab, 1 Con, 1 LibDem
Northern Ireland: 1 DUP, 1 SF, 1 UUP
The UKIP has fallen in polls and recently took a thumping in the London elections last year (the last London elections, held on the same day as the 2004 Euros, were favourable to the UKIP). However, the UKIP (and BNP) got a boost from the MP’s expenses scandal which has hurt Gordon Brown’s Labour government a lot. While the scandal has also involved the Conservatives and LibDems, both parties were less affected because of what is perceived to be a better handling of the scandal by those parties’ respective leaders. Since the scandal, the UKIP’s rather dreary poll numbers turned around and returned to 2004 levels – even superior to that. Numbers for the Conservatives and most significantly Labour also collapsed, while LibDem numbers are hovering at or slightly above (or below) its 2004 result. However, certain polls have been placing the LibDems (or UKIP) ahead of Labour, bumping Labour to third. A third place showing would be a total disaster for Labour and could precipitate things in Westminster. The Greenies seem to have picked up some Labour voters, and they’re polling over the symbolic 10% line. The BNP’s poll numbers fluctuate, and I suspect they’re underestimated. The BNP has a definite chance at picking up a seat it narrowly missed out on in 2004 in the North West. Nick Griffin, the BNP leader, is running there.
In Scotland, the SNP is clearly ahead of Labour on most polling and that lead may replicate at the Euro level. A SNP victory in the Euros would be a symbolic victory for the party, which some say is headed to replace Labour as Scotland’s “natural governing party”. It is hard to say if Plaid Cymru is regaining ground lost in 2004 in Wales, since there is rarely polling from Wales.
In Northern Ireland, there should be no change in the seat allocation. However, it is likely that Jim Allister, elected for the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) but now a member of his Traditionalist Unionist Voice (TUV), which opposes the DUP’s coalition with the nationalist-Catholic Sinn Fein. Diane Dodds, the DUP candidate this time (each party runs only one candidate, even though there are 3 seats – it is extremely unlikely a party would win two in this system), is likely to pick up that seat. It will nonetheless be a test for anti-Accord Unionists, notably the TUV. The nationalists (Social Democratic and Labour Party, SDLP, of course) picking up a seat from the Unionists is practically impossible and Sinn Fein losing a seat to SDLP can also be ruled out.
All 27 English county councils and 3 existing and 5 new English unitary authorities are up for election. Except for Bristol Unitary Authority, where only a third of the seats are up, all seats are up. As of now, the Conservatives controlled 19 of the 27 councils, Labour controlled 4, the LibDems 2, and two (Cumbria, with Conservative-LibDem coalition, and Warwickshire, with a Conservative minority administration) had no overall control. Of the existing three unitary authorities, Bristol had NOC (LibDem minority) while the Isle of Wight had a Conservative majority and the Isles of Scilly were led by Independents. The new authorities are Bedford, West Bedfordshire, Cornwall, Shropshire, and Wiltshire. Direct mayoral elections are being held in Doncaster (Indie incumbent), Hartlepool (Indie) and North Tyneside (Labour).
Ireland votes in a number of elections on June 5, 2009, these being European elections (12 MEPs), local elections and two by-elections to the Irish Dáil Éireann (lower house)
All Irish elections use single-transferable vote (STV), where each voter has one vote but preferences all (or a few) candidates on his ballot. At the count, which normally takes quite some time, a quota is calculated using the number of votes cast divided by the number of seats plus one, the result plus one gives the quota. First preferences are tallied and all candidates with more votes than the quota are elected. If he has a surplus of votes, this surplus is distributed based on the second preferences of his voters. Here is an example of STV in the Cork North Central constituency in the 2007 Dáil elections.
Ireland’s Taoiseach (Prime Minister) is Brian Cowen of Fianna Fáil, a largely centre-right party. He governs in coalition with the Green Party, a few Independents, including members of the now-defunct Progressive Democrats, a neo-liberal centre-right party. In the Dáil, the opposition is formed by Fine Gael, a centre-right party that could be classified as Christian democratic. Ireland’s weird setup with two dominant centrist and ideologically similar parties dates to an old divide at the cause of the Irish Civil War in the 1920s. That year, Sinn Féin, which favoured Ireland’s indepence from the United Kingdom, split over the issue of the Anglo-Irish Treaty. Éamon de Valera led the anti-treaty faction of Sinn Féin which eventually lost the civil war but de Valera founded Fianna Fáil and remained an important figure in Irish politics. Fine Gael was founded by the pro-treaty faction in Sinn Féin. Fianna Fáil has historically been the largest party in Ireland. Other parties include the social democratic Labour Party, the left-wing Sinn Féin (the party, along with the Greens and since recently Fianna Fáil also operate in Northern Ireland. SF is much stronger in Northern Ireland as the leading nationalist Catholic party) and finally the far-left Socialist Party. Ireland is also the home of the anti-Lisbon Treaty businessman Declan Ganley and his new Libertas Europarty.
Brian Cowen and the government are as popular as cancer and death. Ireland has been hit hard by the economic recession, and Fianna Fáil has been in office since 1997. Fine Gael is far ahead of Cowen’s Fianna Fáil in polls, and some polls even has Fianna Fáil in third behind Labour.
Ireland has twelve MEPs in the European Parliament. Ireland has four Euro constituencies, with three MEPs for each. Here are the results of the 2004 election:
Fine Gael (EPP) 27.8% (+3.2%) winning 5 seats (+1)
Fianna Fáil (AEN) 29.5% (-9.1%) winning 4 seats (-2)
Sinn Féin (EUL) 11.1% (+4.8%) winning 1 seat (+1)
Labour (PES) 10.5% (+1.8%) winning 1 seat (nc)
Kathy Sinnott (ID) 5.0% (new) winning 1 seat (+1)
Green Party (EGP) 4.3% (-2.4%) winning 0 seats (-2)
Marian Harkin (ELDR) 3.7% (+0.3%) winning 1 seat (+1)
Dana Rosemary Scallon (EPP) 3.2% (-0.5%) winning 0 seats (-1)
Socialist Party 1.3% (+0.5%)
Results by constituency:
Dublin: 1 FG, 1 FF, 1 Labour, 1 SF
East: 2 FG, 1 FF
North West: 1 FF, 1 Ind (Harkin), 1 FG
South: 1 FF, 1 FG, 1 Ind (Sinnott)
In Dublin, Fine Gael and Labour’s incumbents are both safe. Since Dublin now has 3 seats (vs. 4 in 2004), the race is between SF’s Mary Lou MacDonald and FF’s Eoin Ryan. There is also another FF candidate, Eibhlin Byrne and a number of other candidates include Déirdre de Búrca (Greens), an anti-coalition ex-Greenie, Patricia McKenna, a Libertas unknown and the Socialist Party’s leader Jim Higgins. Ryan should pick up the vast majority of Byrne’s 2nd preferences, though Higgins (around 6-8%) would undoubtedly transfer to MacDonald. I predict 1 FG, 1 Labour and 1 SF.
In the North West, all three incumbents seem safe. Declan Ganley, the leader of Libertas is standing here, and is pegged at 7-9% in polls. Ganley would need excellent transfers from another anti-Lisbon group – but ideologically polar opposite – Sinn Féin. I predict 1 FF, 1 FG and Harkin.
In the South, both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael’s incumbents are safe. The third seat is in play between Kathy Sinnott, who is supported by Libertas, and Alan Kelly of the Labour Party. This race is the closest one in all of Ireland and is very much in play. I personally predict 1 FF, 1 FG, and 1 Labour.
A weird result could come out of the East, with Fine Gael losing a seat to Labour. Mairead McGuinness (FG), who got in easily in 2004, is likely to do so again. Liam Aylward, FF’s incumbent will struggle more but is in little danger. The third seat is in play between John Paul Phelan (FG, not incumbent) and Nessa Childers (Labour). A recent poll puts Childers second on FPVs, meaning that this is probably a certain FG loss to Labour, giving 1 each for FF, FG and Labour. Fine Gael will need a local showing to spin this loss.
All 1,627 city, county, and town councillors are up for election. 744 are members of town councils, the rest represent cities (Cork, Dublin, Galway, Limerick, Waterford) and counties. Here are the 2004 results for city and county councils: Full results available on ElectionsIreland.
Fine Gael: 293 seats (+16)
Fianna Fáil: 302 seats (-80)
Labour: 101 seats (+18)
Sinn Féin: 54 seats (+33)
Progressive Democrats: 19 seats (-6)
Green Party: 18 seats (+10)
Socialist Party: 4 seats (+2)
Independents and Others: 92 seats (+7)
Finally, there are two by-elections. The first is in Dublin Central for a seat vacated by the death of Independent Teachta Dála (TD) Tony Gregory. By-elections for one seat are done using instant runoff voting (IRV), which is STV for one seat. The race here is very divided. Maureen O’Sullivan, a Gregory-ite Independent is at 16% or so in polls, but she could win on transfers from Labour (20%). Fine Gael Senator Pascal Donoghue also has a chance, though FF’s Maurice Ahern (brother of former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern) does not.
In Dublin South, a seat vacated by the death of Fianna Fáil Teachta Dála (TD) Séamus Brennan, the government is likely to see its majority reduced. George Lee of Fine Gael is the overwhelming favourite, he might even get in on first count. Shay Brennan (FF), the son of Séamus, is fighting Labour’s Alex White.