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|This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
the Republic of Ireland
In Ireland, direct elections by universal suffrage are used for the President, the ceremonial head of state; for Dáil Éireann, the lower house of the Oireachtas or parliament; for the European Parliament; and for local government. All elections use the single transferable vote (STV) in constituencies returning three or more members, except that the presidential election and by-elections use the single-winner analogue of STV, elsewhere called instant-runoff voting or the alternative vote. Members of Seanad Éireann, the upper house of the Oireachtas, are partly nominated, partly indirectly elected, and partly elected by graduates.
STV is a form of proportional representation, and coalition governments have been the rule since 1989. Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael were the largest parties in every general election from 1927 to 2007, with the Labour Party usually third. Smaller parties and independents exist in the Dáil and more so in local government.
Residents of the state who are Irish citizens or British citizens may participate in elections to the national parliament. Residents who are citizens of any EU state may vote in European Parliament elections, while any resident, regardless of citizenship, may participate in local elections.
The rights of Irish citizens living outside Ireland to vote are heavily restricted. Only members of the armed forces and diplomatic staff abroad may vote in Dáil (lower house) elections, while only expatriates who are graduates of the National University of Ireland or Trinity College, Dublin may vote in Seanad (upper house) elections. However, in March 2017, the Taoiseach (prime minister) announced that a referendum would be held to amend the Constitution to allow expatriate Irish citizens to vote in presidential elections.
Entitlement to vote is based on citizenship:
|Resident citizens||Local elections||European elections||Dáil Elections||Presidential elections||Referendums|
Military personnel, whether serving at home or abroad, vote by postal ballot. These votes are delivered by a courier service, usually a commercial one, but a military courier is used for ballots cast by Irish troops in Lebanon and Syria. Voters living on islands off the west coast in Galway, Mayo, and Donegal traditionally voted two or three days before polling day, but in 2014 the gap was narrowed, when they voted just one day beforehand.
Elections to Dáil Éireann are required at least every seven years by the Constitution; statute law, currently the Electoral Act 1992, establishes a lower maximum of five years. Elections are by single transferable vote (STV), with each geographic constituency returning between three and five deputies (each called a Teachta Dála or TD). Constituencies since 1981 have been redrawn by an independent Constituency Commission after each census.
|1923||27 August 1923||W. T. Cosgrave||Cumann na nGaedheal||1,382|
|Jun 1927||9 June 1927||98|
|Sep 1927||15 September 1927||1,615|
|1932||16 February 1932||Éamon de Valera||Fianna Fáil||343|
|1933||24 January 1933||1,619|
|1937||1 July 1937||Éamon de Valera||Fianna Fáil||351|
|1938||17 June 1938||1,832|
|1943||23 June 1943||342|
|1944||30 May 1944||1,345|
|1948||4 February 1948||John A. Costello||Fine Gael||1,211|
|Clann na Poblachta|
|Clann na Talmhan|
|1951||30 May 1951||Éamon de Valera||Fianna Fáil||1,084|
|1954||18 May 1954||John A. Costello||Fine Gael||1,022|
|Clann na Talmhan|
|1957||5 March 1957||Éamon de Valera||Fianna Fáil||1,674|
|1961||4 October 1961||Seán Lemass||1,281|
|1965||7 April 1965||1,533|
|1969||18 June 1969||Jack Lynch||1,351|
|1973||28 February 1973||Liam Cosgrave||Fine Gael||1,569|
|1977||16 June 1977||Jack Lynch||Fianna Fáil||1,456|
|1981||11 June 1981||Garret FitzGerald||Fine Gael||252|
|Feb 1982||18 February 1982||Charles Haughey||Fianna Fáil||279|
|Nov 1982||24 November 1982||Garret FitzGerald||Fine Gael||1,546|
|1987||17 February 1987||Charles Haughey||Fianna Fáil||849|
|1989||15 June 1989||Fianna Fáil||1,259|
|1992||25 November 1992||Albert Reynolds||Fianna Fáil||1,654|
|15 December 1994||John Bruton||Fine Gael|
|1997||6 June 1997||Bertie Ahern||Fianna Fáil||1,806|
|2002||17 May 2002||Fianna Fáil||1,833|
|2007||24 May 2007||Fianna Fáil||1,343|
|7 May 2008||Brian Cowen||Fianna Fáil|
|2011||25 February 2011||Enda Kenny||Fine Gael||1,803|
|2016||26 February 2016||Fine Gael||747|
|14 June 2017||Leo Varadkar||Fine Gael|
Elections to the European Parliament are held simultaneously across Europe every five years. In Ireland, as for Dáil elections, STV is used in constituencies returning three to five members.
Local elections are held on the same day as European elections. Local electoral areas (LEAs) return between six and ten councillors by STV. Until the Local Government Reform Act 2014, separate county councils and borough/town councils were elected in parallel. The 2014 act replaced borough and town councils with municipal district councils comprising the county councillors from the LEA coterminous with the district.
The President of Ireland is formally elected by the citizens of Ireland once in every seven years, except in the event of premature vacancy, when an election must be held within sixty days. The President is directly elected by secret ballot under the system of the Alternative Vote. While both Irish and UK citizens resident in the state may vote in elections to Dáil Éireann (the lower house of parliament), only Irish citizens, who must be at least eighteen years of age, may vote in the election of the President. The presidency is open to all citizens of the state who are at least 35. A candidate must, however be nominated by one of the following:
Where only one candidate is nominated, he or she is deemed elected without the need for a ballot. For this reason, where there is a consensus among political parties, the President may be 'elected' without the occurrence of an actual ballot. No one may serve as President for more than two terms.
The Constitution of Ireland recognises two types of referendums:
There have been 38 referendums for amendments to the Constitution of Ireland. There have been no ordinary referendums.
For a proposal to change the name of a place, a "plebiscite" is required of "ratepayers": that is, residents of the place and businesses paying rates for property there. Such a plebiscite is carried out by the local authority via a postal vote. In a County Cork town, Charleville was chosen in a 1989 four-option plebiscite ahead of Ráth Luirc, An Rath, and Rathgoggan. The Official Languages Act 2003 prevented the plebiscite provision applying to places in the Gaeltacht, and so a 2005 plebiscite to change the name of Dingle, County Kerry was ruled invalid; in 2011 the 2003 act was amended to remove the anomaly. The 2011 amendment also changes the electorate from ratepayers to local government electors, but has not yet been commenced.
In accordance with Section 79 of the Local Government Act 1946 and the Local Government (Changing of Place Names Regulations) 1956 (as amended by Section 67 of Local Government Act 1994); Brophy, Daragh (13 January 2015). "Palmerston or Palmerstown? ... Residents have voted on a name change". TheJournal.ie. Retrieved 8 January 2018.
The people of the north Cork town of Rath Luirc (or Charleville, or An Rath, or Rathgoggan) have voted to use the name Charleville for their town. Road signs in the area will be replaced.
Prospective amending provision: section substituted by Environment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2011 (20/2011), s. 48, not commenced as of date of revision; amended by Local Government Reform Act 2014 (1/2014) as per F-note above.