Irish presidential election, 1997

Irish presidential election, 1997

The Irish presidential election of 1997 was held on 30 October 1997. It was the eleventh presidential election to be held in Ireland, and only the sixth to be contested by more than one candidate.

Candidates

The 1997 presidential election saw the biggest number of candidates contesting the position. In all five people received nominations, and more remarkably four of them were women.

Mary McAleese

Mary McAleese was the Fianna Fáil candidate for the presidency. Born in Belfast, she was formerly a journalist with RTÉ and at the time of her nomination she was Pro-Vice Chancellor of Queens University Belfast. An activist with Fianna Fáil for many years, she wasn't thought likely to receive the party's nomination. Two other candidates, Albert Reynolds and Michael O'Kennedy also sought the Fianna Fáil nomination and seemed to have much better credentials. Reynolds was a former Taoiseach while O'Kennedy was a former cabinet minister having served in the Finance and Foreign Affairs portfolios. Both were also sitting Teachtaí Dála (Members of Parliament) which was seen as an advantage. In the first round of voting Reynolds received 49, McAleese 42 and O'Kennedy 21. In the second round McAleese won with 62 votes to Reynolds's 48.

Mary Banotti

Mary Banotti was the choice of Fine Gael to represent the party in the election. The grand-niece of the Irish rebel, Michael Collins, and the sister of the deputy leader of the party, Nora Owen, Banotti was seen as an excellent choice. She defeated Avril Doyle for the Fine Gael nomination in a very close contest. Banotti, who was an MEP at the time had the distinction of being the only practicing politician.

Adi Roche

Adi Roche received the nominations of the Labour Party, Democratic Left and the Green Party. A charity worker and human rights campaigner, Roche was seen as a wise choice by the parties that nominated her and a very able campaigner.

Dana Rosemary Scallon

In a move that had never been used in previous presidential elections, Dana Rosemary Scallon received the nominations of five county councils. While this was a perfectly legitimate and constitutional means of getting nominated for the presidency it certainly was unprecedented. Scallon was the 1970 Eurovision Song Contest winner and a family values campaigner.

Derek Nally

Derek Nally was the fifth candidate to join the presidential race and the only male candidate. A retired Garda and victims' rights campaigner he received the nominations of five county councils like Scallon.

Campaign

The presidential election was due to be held in any case but it was brought forward slightly by the decision of the incumbent President Robinson to resign slightly earlier to take up her position as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Adi Roche, who was seen as a potential winner, became embroiled in difficulties and her campaign went into serious decline when she showed a poor understanding of the office. On the other hand, McAleese provided a formidable campaigner. Banotti also showed her political skills, while Dana surprised all with her appeal and campaigning abilities. Derek Nally's campaign was beset by internal problems.

The turnout for the election was extremely low, with only 1,279,688 people, or 48% of the electorate, casting their votes. In the final result, McAleese easily beat Banotti, while Dana came in a shock third, forcing Roche into a humiliating fourth. As a result Mary McAleese became the eighth President of Ireland.

Result

Irish Election box begin
title=Irish Presidential Election, 1997
Irish Election box candidate with party link
candidate = Mary McAleese
party = Fianna Fáil
votes = 574,424
percentage = 45.24
seat = 1
count = 2
Irish Election box candidate with party link
candidate = Mary Banotti
party = Fine Gael
votes = 372,002
percentage = 29.30
seat =
count =
Irish Election box candidate
candidate = Dana Rosemary Scallon
party = Independent
votes = 175,458
percentage = 13.82
seat =
count =
Irish Election box candidate
candidate = Adi Roche
party = Independent
votes = 88,423
percentage = 6.96
seat =
count =
Irish Election box candidate
candidate = Derek Nally
party = Independent
votes = 59,529
percentage = 4.69
seat =
count =


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