Elections in the Republic of Ireland

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Coat of arms of Ireland
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
the Republic of Ireland

Ireland elects on national level a head of state — the president — and a legislature. The president is elected for a seven-year term by Irish citizens resident in the state (see below).

Oireachtas Éireann (the national parliament) has two chambers:

Governments and elections have been dominated by two main parties, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. The electoral system provides for a form of proportional representation, with the consequence that coalition government has become the norm in recent decades. At present there are seven parties in the Oireachtas and a number of non-party representatives.

Eligibility to vote[edit]

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.[1]

Entitlement to vote, based on citizenship:

Resident citizens Local elections European elections Dáil Elections Presidential elections Referendums
Irish citizens Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
British citizens Yes Yes Yes No No
EU citizens Yes Yes No No No
Non-EU citizens Yes No No No No

Early voting[edit]

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.[2] 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.[3]

General election results since 1923[edit]

Election Date President Party Days
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
Election Date Taoiseach Party Days
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
Labour Party
Clann na Poblachta
Clann na Talmhan
National Labour
1951 30 May 1951 Éamon de Valera Fianna Fáil 1,084
1954 18 May 1954 John A. Costello Fine Gael 1,022
Labour Party
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
Labour Party
1977 16 June 1977 Jack Lynch Fianna Fáil 1,456
1981 11 June 1981 Garret FitzGerald Fine Gael 252
Labour Party
Feb 1982 18 February 1982 Charles Haughey Fianna Fáil 279
Nov 1982 24 November 1982 Garret FitzGerald Fine Gael 1,546
Labour Party
1987 17 February 1987 Charles Haughey Fianna Fáil 849
1989 15 June 1989 Fianna Fáil 1,259
Progressive Democrats
1992 25 November 1992 Albert Reynolds Fianna Fáil 1,654
Labour Party
15 December 1994 John Bruton Fine Gael
Labour Party
Democratic Left
1997 6 June 1997 Bertie Ahern Fianna Fáil 1,806
Progressive Democrats
2002 17 May 2002 Fianna Fáil 1,833
Progressive Democrats
2007 24 May 2007 Fianna Fáil 1,343
Green Party
Progressive Democrats
7 May 2008 Brian Cowen Fianna Fáil
Green Party
2011 25 February 2011 Enda Kenny Fine Gael 1553+
Labour Party

Presidential elections[edit]

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:

  • Twenty members of the Oireachtas (national parliament).
  • Four local authorities.
  • Themselves (in the case of an incumbent or former president that has served only one term).

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.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "System seems complicated but your vote really does matter". Irish Independent. 23 May 2014. 
  2. ^ "Our peacekeepers among first to cast votes". Irish Independent. 23 May 2014. 
  3. ^ "Defence Forces helicopter glitch delays island poll". Irish Independent. 23 May 2014. 

External links[edit]