Ireland has historically been profiled as a two party state, with its people voting along civil war divides without considering policies or personalities of the candidates running. However this ideal not entirely correct and civil war voting has declined as time has progressed and the amount of independent candidates elected has increased rapidly in recent times. In this piece I will discuss how Irish people continue to identify with parties but much less so than historically was the case and a tendency to vote for candidates for there personality is common particularly in local elections.
Ireland is unusual as it has two centre right parties who are in direct opposition with each other. After the civil war people identified with either Fianna Fail (FF) or Fine Gael (FG) depending on what side of the civil war their family supported. They would not consider voting for the other party under any circumstances and tended to vote blindly for the same party each election.
This has changed for example in the 2011 election FF saw its vote collapse with most of it going to FG. This is just one example of the decline of civil war politics but also a decline in party identification. Ireland has always had a lack of left wing political parties, the emergence of more left wing parties in the 1980s created divides on moral issues such as divorce and abortion, this decrease people’s identification with the established parties.
Ireland’s electoral system of proportional representation (PR) has helped the decline of party identification. While from the 2002 election to 2007 election both FF and FG saw an increase in second preference voting, both in the 2011 general election and the 2014 local election transfers have had less of a pattern thus proving people will vote for multiple parties with there second, third etc. votes indicating there is less party identification.
Irish people tend to identify more with personalities at local elections as they may know the...