Ireland elections show shift towards liberal party

Abigail McArthur-Self, Editor-in-Chief

Ireland held its general elections in February of 2020, and the results could be indicative of a larger trend for the country. 

Though Ireland has multiple parties and a number of successful independent politicians,  the Fine Gael and the Fianna Fáil have been the dominant political parties. In this election, however, Sinn Feín gained by almost 11 percentage points, putting them on par with the other two parties. 

Fine Gael is an economically center-right party that focuses on fiscal responsibility. The party has a more socially liberal platform. The party has been a strong influence in the Irish government since its formation. 

Fianna Fáil is slightly more liberal, often considered a centrist party. Though this party dominated Irish elections for some time, they were overtaken by Fine Gael. They have regained much of their influence in the past years. 

Sinn Feín is a liberal party with a focus on Irish reunification. Though this is an important point for a number of the parties, Sinn Feín has both a dedicated and controversial history with the issue, due to its emergency during the Irish Troubles, a period of violent political unrest. Currently, however, the party promotes itself as a voice for working class individuals. 

As a result of this election, both Fianna Fáil and Sinn Feín have overtaken Fine Gael in the number of seats they control. About a third of the seats are controlled by members of Ireland’s smaller parties or by independent candidates. 

After an election, the members of the Dáil, Ireland’s Parliament, usually work together to form a government by electing officials like prime ministers and cabinet members. If no party controls a majority of seats, as has been the case in Ireland previously, parties may decide to negotiate to form a coalition government with representatives from each party. 

This election led to a three-way split, so there is no majority party. Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have often worked together in the past. Both say they are unwilling to consider a coalition government with Sinn Feín due to the parties’ differences. 

Some political analysts have speculated that Sinn Feín’s newest victory shows a shift in the country’s political climate and willingness to vote for more liberal candidates.