Posts By Tom O'Connor

What Can Come of the Leftward Movement in the Irish Local and Euro Elections?

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The left are on the march in Ireland since the local elections. Irish people and Irish political culture is slowly changing. The old description of Whyte (1972) that Ireland possesses a politics ‘without social bases’ is coming to end. Class politics has started to arrive and the old ‘two and a half’ Irish party system, with the demise of Labour, is no more. These developments present real opportunities for the left in Ireland and for the people who have been oppressed by austerity. In this context, this article attempts to factor in the gains on the left and predict the future at the next election.  This is done to see whether at last we can have a progressive left-dominated government which can prioritise public services, workers, the welfare state and offer fairer taxes, and other progressive measures that this left government would bring.

Dr Adrian Kavanagh has been doing some excellent work in recent times examining opinion poll data since the FG/Labour government came to power in February 2011. Also, Tom Louwerse’s analysis, which calculates the average across all opinion polls from April 1st 2011 to April 1st 2014 is very useful. Reading off the approximate values from the Louwerse graph (, the analysis suggests that constant first preference party support is as follows:  FG (25%); FF (22%); SF (18%); Labour (8%); other parties/Independents (20%); Greens (3%).

The European elections indicate the following first preference party support levels: FG (22%); FF (22%); SF (20%); Other parties/Independents (30%); Labour (5%).

The final result for the Local Elections shows the following first preferences: FF (25%); FG (24%); Other Parties/Independents/Greens (28%); SF (15%) and Labour (7%).

Adrian Kavanagh uses a model to predict the number of seats that first preference votes would give to each party and he does this for all the final national opinion polls produced in the weeks prior to the Local and European Elections 2014. His analysis is based on this RTE commissioned ‘poll of polls’ of May 21st, 2014.

This gives the following breakdown: FG (24%); FF (22%); Labour (7%); Independents/Other Parties and Greens 26%.

Corresponding to this ‘poll of polls’,  Kavanagh predicts the number of resultant TDs in the Dail if a general election was held, as follows: FF (38); FG (45); Labour (2); SF (32); Independents/Other Parties/Greens (41).

I have analysed the ‘Independents & Other’ TDs (which includes left parties such as SP and PBP which opinion polls still categorise as ‘Independents/Others!) in the current Dail, as follows:

Currently there are 28 in total at this point. Of these 28 TDs, 11 come from mainly FG gene pool, that is, supporters of Lucinda Creighton, with the remaining being ex FF or PD.

However, the majority of the 28 seats, 17 in total, are from a ‘left’ leaning/ ‘people power’ gene pool in terms of their political philosophy. These include: Tommy Broughan (ex Lab); Joan Collins (People Before Profit); Clare Daly (Ind Left); Stephen Donneely (Ind); Luke Ming Flanagan (Ind); John Halligan (Ind); Finian McGrath (Ind); Catherine Murphy (Ind);  Ruth Coppinger (SP); Maureen O’Sullivan (Ind); Tom Pringle (Ind); Shane Ross (Ind); Roisin Shortall (ex Lab); Mick Wallace (Ind); Richard Boyd Barrett (PBP); Seamus Healy (TUAG); Joe Higgins (SP).

If we assumed that these 28 existing TDs were to get re-elected next time, which is not too unreasonable, then Kavanagh’s analysis suggests that at least a further 13 ‘Independent/Other TDs will also be elected at the next general election.

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Ireland’s Leftward Movement


I spent a few hours analysing election results and the Red C Opinion Poll of Sunday Dec 2rd, 2012. This was done to see whether or by how much the left is getting stronger.

In my method I’ve categorised the Labour Party as left for the analysis, based on their potential to be so in the main, and by virtue of their stated policies in the past. I've also categorised  independent TDs and TDs from smaller parties as either part of the broad ‘left’ or as part of the broad ‘right’, depending on their ideology.

I’ve obviously categorised FF and FG as one on the right. I've done this for four elections (elections 81, 87, 97, 07, 11) and the opinion poll of Dec 2rd, 2012. This has yielded some very interesting results, as follows:

1981: Right 81%, Left = 19%
1987: Right 85%, Left=15%

1997: Right 76%, Left=24%
2007: Right 75%, Left=25%
2011: Right 60%, Left = 40%
2012: Right=57%, Left 43% (Red C Poll Dec 2nd)

Here are just a couple of observations: The tide has turned towards the left progressively since 1987 and particularly since the 2007 election, just before the recession started. However, this move started from 1987 to 2007 (15% to 25% left) and not during another tough and protracted period of austerity from 1981 to 1987, the question is why?

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What Money Can’t Buy


Book Review: Michael Sandel, What Money Can’t Buy, the Moral Limits of Markets (Allen Lane 2012) Michael Sandel’s book powerfully articulates what the majority of people across the globe know is happening: markets and finance…

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