Almost 2,000 votes received in Labour leadership contest

Deadline is noon on Friday for party members to return their ballot papers

Counting of votes in the election for leadership of the Labour Party will begin at 12.30pm on Friday. Photograph:  Dara Mac Donaill / The Irish Times

Counting of votes in the election for leadership of the Labour Party will begin at 12.30pm on Friday. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill / The Irish Times

 

A total of 1,886 votes in the Labour leadership and deputy leadership elections have been received by the party to date as members continue to return ballot papers.

The potential total electorate is 3,265, comprising party members whose membership fees are up-to-date. The poll will close at 12 noon on Friday.

Some party figures say they expect the turnout to be in the region of 75 to 80 per cent, while others are expecting a lower figure.

Two ballot papers and a postage-paid envelope have been sent to each person who is entitled to vote to elect a new party leader and deputy leader.

Counting of votes will begin in the Royal College of Physicians in Dublin on Friday at around 12.30pm.

Once the envelopes have been opened and the ballot papers separated, the votes for party leaders will be counted with a result expected at around 3.30pm. The deputy leadership result is expected at approximately 5.30pm.

The candidates to replace Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore are Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton and Minister of State for primary care Alex White.

The four contenders for the deputy’s position are: Minister of State for public transport Alan Kelly; Minister of State for research and innovation Seán Sherlock; Waterford TD Ciara Conway and Cork deputy Michael McCarthy.

The number of Labour members eligible to vote in the leadership and deputy leadership elections is substantially down on the last time the party held a contest for a position at the top of the party.

Although an estimated 5,000 would have been entitled to vote if they paid their fees, party figures say the electorate is as they would have expected.

Although Eamon Gilmore was elected leader unopposed in 2007, there was a contest for the position of deputy leader between Ms Burton and Jan O’Sullivan.

About 4,600 people were eligible to vote, but the turnout was only 59.3 per cent. Ms Burton beat Ms O’Sullivan by 1,470 votes to 1,266 and it is likely the high number of eligible voters was due to the proximity to a general election, which would have led many to pay their fees.

The last leadership election – and the first which allowed every member of the party to vote – saw 3,472 people cast their ballots out of an eligible 3,945, a turnout of 88 per cent in the contest eventually won by Pat Rabbitte.