2011 General Election

One of the most dramatic political events of this era was the general election of February 2011. The victors, Fine Gael and Labour, suggested the election result amounted to a ‘democratic revolution.’ Since its foundation in 1926, Fianna Fáil had not only dominated Irish politics, being in power for almost 60 of the next 80 years, but it had been one of the most successful political parties in the world. Over the course of all the general elections Fianna Fáil contested from 1927 to 2007, it secured an average of almost 45% of first preference votes. To lose to the extent it did in 2011,when its vote went down to 17.4% and it lost 51 of its 71 seats in parliament, represented defeat on a historic scale, with echoes of the seminal December 1918 general election, when Sinn Féin routed the Irish Parliamentary Party, winning 73 seats to the Irish Parliamentary Party’ssix, down from 69 at the dissolution of parliament. However, many perceived the 2011 general election result was about revenge rather than revolution. Irish political culture, involving an excessively centralised state, weak local government and national parliamentarians focused on local constituency work in order to secure their re-election, was not at all transformed by the 2011 election and it is also questionable if it really represented a revolution in mood. The main beneficiary of the collapse in the Fianna Fáil vote was Fianna Gael, which did not represent a radical alternative as a party.


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