The drama of the count, but was it worth it?

  • 93.4 per cent of seats would have been the same on first preference count only [Updated]
  • Only 11 elected candidates came from behind after first count [Updated]

Much is made of the drama of the count, the nuance of the transfer and the high wire art of vote management.

Sometimes drama is all about the time it takes to fill between the action, in this case the vote, and the reaction, here being the election of a candidate.

In other electoral sytems the drama last hours rather than days.  A short sharp burst of winning and losing rather than the death by a thousand pencil strokes that we inflict here on losing candidates.

Is it worth it?  There are many answers relating to the entire basis of political representation but in simple terms of counting people’s votes the answer after this weekend is probably not.

With all of the counts now finally completed an analysis of the 166 candidates elected reveals that 155 of them polled enough first preference votes to be elected to one of the seats in their constituency without any of the flaffing around with transfers.  That is a pretty convincing 93.4 per cent.

The nine seats that were affected by transfers were those won by the following candidates (listed alongside those who will be feeling hard done by this morning):

  • Timmy Dooley(FF) of Clare who polled 50 votes less than Tony Mulcahy (FG)
  • Dara Murphy (FG) of Cork North Central who polled 475 votes less than party colleague Pat Burton (FG)
  • Sean Kenny (LAB) of Dublin North East who polled 667 votes less than Larry O’Toole (SF)
  • Kevin Humphreys (LAB) of Dublin South East who polled 472 votes less than Chris Andrews (FF)
  • Colm Keaveney (LAB) of Galway East who polled 1622 votes less than Tom McHugh (FG) and who overtook three others in a remarkable show of second favouritism
  • Robert Troy (FF) of Longford/Westmeath who polled 2354 votes less than Peter Burke (FG) who will also be smarting having taken more first preferences than his elected colleague Nicky McFadden.
  • Ray Butler (FG) of Meath West who polled 170 votes less than Jenny McHugh (LAB)
  • John Halligan (IND) of Waterford who polled 1969 votes less than Brendan Kenneally (FF)
  • John Browne (FF) of Wexford who polled 1066 votes less than Micheal D’Arcy (FG)
  • Anne Ferris (LAB) of Wicklow who polled 1,656 votes less than John Brady (SF)
  • Sean Kyne (FG) of Galway West who polled 474 votes less than party colleague Fidelma Healy-Eames (FG)

Fine Gael therefore suffered an overall loss of three, perhaps enough to have made a minority government a more realistic option for Enda Kenny.  Sinn Féin also lost out on two seats, indicative perhaps of their less transfer friendly status for middle Ireland.  Fianna Fáil would have been one seat worse while Labour were the biggest net winners from the sytem with a net gain of three seats, or 8 per cent of the Parliamentary party.

The names and numbers will of course pass into history but it is worth recording those who had one hand on the cup, and perhaps to reflect on whether in fact the long counts are worth as much as we believe.


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