Irish general election, 2002

Irish general election, 2002

Infobox Election
election_name Irish general election, 2002
country = Ireland
type = parliamentary
ongoing = no
previous_election = Irish general election, 1997
previous_year = 1997
previous_mps = Members of the 28th Dáil
next_election = Irish general election, 2007
next_year = 2007
next_mps = Members of the 30th Dáil
seats_for_election = 165 Seats in Dáil Éireann
election_date = 17 May 2002

leader1 = Bertie Ahern
leader_since1 = 1994
party1 = Fianna Fáil
leaders_seat1 = Dublin Central
last_election1 = 77, 39.3%
seats1 = 81
seat_change1 = +8
popular_vote1 = 770,800
percentage1 = 41.5%
swing1 = +2.2%

leader2 = Michael Noonan
leader_since2 = 2001
party2 = Fine Gael
leaders_seat2 = Limerick East
last_election2 = 54, 27.9%
seats2 = 31
seat_change2 = -23
popular_vote2 = 417,700
percentage2 = 22.5%
swing2 = -5.4%

leader3 = Ruairi Quinn
leader_since3 = 1997
party3 = Labour Party (Ireland)
leaders_seat3 = Dublin South West
last_election3 = 21, 12.9%
seats3 = 20
seat_change3 = -1
popular_vote3 = 200,100
percentage3 = 10.8%
swing3 = -2.1%

title = Taoiseach
before_election = Bertie Ahern
before_party = Fianna Fáil
after_election = Bertie Ahern
after_party = Fianna Fáil

The Irish general election of 2002 was held on Friday 17 May 2002 just over three weeks after the dissolution of the 28th Dáil on Thursday 25 April by President Mary McAleese, at the request of the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern. The newly elected members of the 29th Dáil assembled on Thursday 6 June 2002.

The general election took place in 42 parliamentary constituencies throughout the Republic of Ireland for 165 seats in the lower house of parliament, Dáil Éireann.


The general election was significant for a number of reasons:

*The election was considered a success for Fianna Fáil, with the party coming within a handful of seats from achieving an overall majority. The only high-profile loss was Mary O'Rourke losing her seat in Westmeath.
*The re-election of the Fianna FáilProgressive Democrats government, the first occasion since 1969 when an Irish government won re-election.
*The meltdown in Fine Gael support, which saw the main opposition party drop from 54 to 31 seats, and lose all but three seats in Dublin.
*The failure of the Labour Party, contrary to all expectations, to increase its seat total. Later in the year, Ruairi Quinn stepped down as leader of the Labour Party. He was replaced by Pat Rabbitte. The most high-profile loss for the party was the defeat of former leader Dick Spring in Kerry.
*The success of the Green Party, which increased its TDs from two to six, including its first Teachta Dála (TD) outside of the capital, Dublin.
*The electoral success of Sinn Féin, which increased its seat number from one to five.
*The election of a large number of independent candidates. Many of these candidates, however, were former members of Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael.
*Contrary to what opinion polls and political pundits were predicting, the Progressive Democrats kept all of their seats, and picked up four more.
*It was the first time electronic voting machines were used in an Irish election. They were used in three constituencies: Meath, Dublin West and Dublin North.

The 2002 election results provided little comfort for those who wished to see an alternative government and in the event the Fianna Fáil–Progressive Democrats coalition survived a full term.

Fine Gael

The most noticeable feature of the election was the collapse in Fine Gael's vote. It suffered its worst electoral result ever, with several prominent members failing to get re-elected, including:
*Alan Dukes – Former Leader of Fine Gael.
*Jim Mitchell – Deputy Leader of Fine Gael.
*Nora Owen – Former Deputy Leader of Fine Gael and former Minister for Justice.
*Austin Currie – Former Presidential Election candidate.
*Jim Higgins – Former Chief Whip.
*Alan Shatter – Member of the Fine Gael Front Bench.

The party's losses were especially pronounced in Dublin, where just three TDs were returned. This meant it won fewer seats than Fianna Fáil, Labour, Progressive Democrats or the Greens in Dublin. The reasons for the drop support for Fine Gael are varied:
* There was an element of bad luck in some losses, and the proportion of seats they lost (42.6%) was much greater than the proportion of votes (5.2%).
* In 2002, the Irish economy was booming, unemployment was low, and the outgoing government was a stable one that had lasted its full term. These factors explain why the two largest opposition parties, Fine Gael and the Labour Party performed poorly.
* No other opposition party, noticeably Labour, would agree to a pre-election pact with Fine Gael, sensing the unpopularity of the party. This meant that no-one felt that Fine Gael would be able to lead a government after the election. In contrast, the two parties of the outgoing government fought the election on a united front.
* The Fine Gael party was poorly organised in Dublin, and morale was low.
* The political landscape has changed in Ireland since Fine Gael's heyday in the 1980's. The Progressive Democrats and the Green Party in particular have eaten into Fine Gael's middle class support, and anti-Fianna Fáil voters now have a much wider range of parties to choose from. All 4 of the extra seats won by the Green Party were at the expense of Fine Gael, as were 3 out of 4 of the Progressive Democrats' gains.
* Toward the end of the campaign, Michael McDowell warned that because Fianna Fáil were so high in the opinion polls, they could form a government by themselves. This led to a significant shift to the Progressive Democrats at the last minute, and many Fine Gael voters voted strategically for the Progressive Democrats to avoid a single-party Fianna Fáil government. In the immediate aftermath of the election, Fine Gael leader Michael Noonan announced his resignation from the leadership and Enda Kenny was chosen as the new leader in the subsequent election.


eats won


* On 11 March 2005 Catherine Murphy "(Ind.)" won a Fianna Fáil seat in Kildare North and Shane McEntee retained a Fine Gael seat in the Meath constituency.

ee also

* Government of the 29th Dáil
* Members of the 29th Dáil
* Ministers of State of the 29th Dáil
* Members of the 22nd Seanad

Further reading

* cite journal
quotes =
last = Mitchell
first = Paul
authorlink =
coauthors =
date =
year = 2003
month = April
title = Fianna Fáil still dominant in the coalition era: The Irish general election of May 2002
journal = West European Politics
volume = 26
issue = 2
pages = 174–183
issn =
pmid =
doi =
id =
url =
language =
format =
accessdate =
laysummary =
laysource =
laydate =
quote =

External links

* [ Dáil General Election May 2002: Results and Transfer of Votes] (PDF format)
* [ Collection of party manifestos from 2002 on]

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