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Irish general election, 1977

From Academic Kids

Template:Politics of the Republic of Ireland The Irish general election of 1977 was held on June 16, 1977. The newly elected 148 members of the 21st Dáil assembled at Leinster House on July 5 when the new Taoiseach and government were appointed.

The general election took place in 42 parliamentary constituencies throughout the Republic of Ireland for 148 seats in the lower house of parliament, Dáil Éireann

Contents

Campaign

In spite of having faced some controversial issues during its term of office, the ruling Fine Gael-Labour coalition looked set to defy political history by winning a second term. This belief was further augmented following the so-called "Tullymander" of parliamentary constituencies. This refers to the Minister for Local Government, James Tully, and his scheme of redrawing every constituency in the country in an effort to maximise the vote for the coalition partners. For instance in Dublin there were thirteen three-seat constituencies. It was hoped that the coalition partners would win two of the seats, leaving Fianna Fáil with only one seat. A similar tactic was used in rural areas where the party was at its strongest.

As a result of this, Fianna Fáil and its leader, Jack Lynch, believed that they couldn't win the general election. The party drew up a manifesto which offered the electorate a string of financial and economic "sweeteners", encouraging them to vote for Fianna Fáil. Some of the promises that were offered included the abolition of rates on houses, the abolition of car tax and the promise of reducing unemployment to under 100,000. Lynch agreed to the mainfesto because he believed that the party needed something dramatic if it was to win the election. This was not the case.

The Fianna Fáil campaign was based on the American model. Lynch travelled the length and breadth of the country, accompanied by his followers. His popularity was at its highest, and it soon became clear that the manifesto was unnecessary. Lynch's popularity alone was Fianna Fáil's biggest electoral asset. The party slogan, "Bring Back Jack", even played on Lynch's huge appeal The campaign swung in Fianna Fáil's favour by polling day, however, nobody could have predicted the scale of the victory.

In contrast to Fianna Fáil, the government parties of Fine Gael and Labour fought the general election on their record in government. The redrawing of the constituency boundaries also gave them hope for success, however, they offered little else to the electorate apart from the policies they had been pursuing for the previous four years.

Results

The results were as follows:

Party Leader Seats First Preferences
# of Seats Gain/Loss % of Dáil # of Votes %
Fianna Fáil Jack Lynch 84 +15 56.75   50.6
Fine Gael Liam Cosgrave 43 -11 29.05   30.6
Labour Party Brendan Corish 17 -2 11.48   11.6
Independents 4 +2 2.7   7.2
  148   100.0   100.0

While towards the end of the campaign Fianna Fáil were expected to win the general election, nobody predicted the scale of that victory. An unprecedented twenty-seat majority in Dáil Éireann for Fianna Fáil saw the National Coalition swept from power in the biggest political hurricane in Irish history. Only Eamon de Valera had ever done better, but only once out of 13 elections. Following the election defeat the leaders of Fine Gael and the Labour Party, Liam Cosgrave and Brendan Corish resigned, the first occassion in which a defeated Taoiseach or Tánaiste had done so.

First time TDs

Retiring TDs

See also


Irish General Elections

Irish flag

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