Peer-Reviewed Journal Details
Mandatory Fields
Gary Murphy and Theresa Reidy
Irish Political Studies
Presidential Elections in Ireland: From Partisan Predictability to the End of Loyalty
Optional Fields
This article assesses the seven presidential elections held in Ireland between 1945 and 2011 and argues that the best way of understanding these contests is to divide them into two separate categories: the four contests from 1945 to 1973 and the three contests from 1990 to 2011. The first category of presidential elections reflects the entirely stable and predictable pattern of party competition that represented politics in Ireland after Fianna Fáil first came to power in 1932. The second category reflects an entirely different type of politics in Ireland: one where presidential elections took place against a backdrop of a changing party system and an increasingly volatile electorate, where ties of party loyalty would loosen substantially over a 20-year period. The presidential contests of 1990, 1997 and 2011 all show evidence of increasing voter disconnect from the party system, and a shift away from the defining features of previous presidential elections. Predictable political stability has been replaced by a weakening of partisan voting as candidates come under more and more public scrutiny. By assessing the nomination processes, election campaigns and outcomes of Ireland's presidential elections, evidence is shown of striking change in the dynamic of the elections from 1990.
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