We have a fascinating electoral system in Ireland. Proportional representation, single-transferable vote, multi-seat constituencies. This produces amazingly complex battles, particularly over final seats in marginal constituencies and often between members of the same party. A handful of votes have been known to tip the result one way or the other, or destroy a political career. Witness Dick Spring, leader of the Labour party and second-in-command (Tanaiste) of the government…who lost his seat in 2002, despite having more first preference votes. Beaten on transfers.
Today, the 2007 election count is happening. It looks like Fianna Fail will win another five year term. Fine Gael have recovered somewhat (but, then, they were coming from such a poor result last time…), and all the smaller parties are under immense pressure. The PDs (second party of government) have been squeezed almost out of existence. Sinn Fein are hardly gaining at all, while Labour are looking like loosing seats.
It is early days yet, but here are my personal predictions: FF 76 (-3) FG 48 (+16) Labour 16 (-4) PDs 1 (-7) SF 7 (+1) Independents 10 (-4) Greens 8 (+2).
This means that 1) a FG/Lab/Green coalition is impossible (only 70 seats, when 83 needed). 2) FF/PD outgoing government is also impossible (only 77 seats). 3) A possible FF/SF coalition looks slightly possible (although at 83 seats, there are huge political difficulties for FF in entering coalition with SF). 4) FF/Lab have plenty of seats, and despite the pre-election pact between FG and Lab, this looks the most likely option. I predict a FF-Labour coalition government from now until 2012. I’ll be back later with the final results!