State of the parties: FF emerges as the big mover

Analysis: Scale of Labour losses masking a very poor result for Fine Gael

Fianna Fáil European candidate Mary Fitzpatrick speaks to reporters as counting begins in  count centre at the RDS in Dublin. Photograph: PA

Fianna Fáil European candidate Mary Fitzpatrick speaks to reporters as counting begins in count centre at the RDS in Dublin. Photograph: PA

Sun, May 25, 2014, 17:42

With over 600 of the 949 city and council seats filled, there have been some dramatic trends emerging on the second day of the count.

Perhaps the most interesting is that the biggest mover nationally hasn’t been Sinn Féin but Fianna Fáil, which has jumped over seven points from its 2011 showing of 17 per cent and looks like taking in almost 25 per cent of the vote.

Sinn Féin is also up but its national showing, while respectable, is certainly not as spectacular or ‘game-changing’ as has been suggested.

Sure the party has done amazingly well in Dublin and would have won more seats in the capital if it had run more candidates.

But outside of Dublin its gains have been much more modest.

On the other side of the coin, the focus has been very much on the Labour Party and the precipitous fall in support it has endured.

But Fine Gael has also taken a huge hit, down some 12 per cent on its general election showing and also eight points why of its 2009 vote share which was 32 per cent.

Of interest too, has been the performance of smaller parties.

People Before Profit and the Anti Austerity Alliance have done tremendously well in Dublin with some high quality breakthrough candidates including Tracy McVeigh in the South Inner City.

Likewise the Greens have made a very strong comeback after two abysmal elections. Patrick Costello topped the poll in Rathmines and Rathgar and another strong breakthrough candidate Claire Byrne won a seat in Pembroke.

Nationally the party may return 10 councillors which is a great result for it, given the routing it received in 2011.

The first counts from the European Elections are expected late this evening - the tallies have been sporadic and piecemeal meaning that there is little solid intelligence. There has been a lot of speculation that Simon Harris may be one to watch in the South but this assessment is based on partial tallies.

Fine Gael

Fine Gael has had a poor election, even though Taoiseach Enda Kenny did his best to talk it down last night.

The party came into the election with 335 councils seats but has seen its vote share tumble.

With 23 per cent share of the vote it could see a seat loss of some 100 councillors. If the party fails to win four seats in the European elections, then questions will be asked about its electoral strategy and whether it was complacent.

Eamon Coghlan was a disappointment in Dublin West. Fine Gael also had a very bad day in Dublin City where its number of councillors fell to eight; four of whom are based in Dublin South East.

Fianna Fáil

A lot of attention has been focused on European elections, where its performance will at best reasonable. But on a local level, Fianna Fáil has been the big winner in the election, outperforming even Sinn Féin compared to 2011.

With 25 per cent of the vote, the party has improved by seven percentage points since 2011 and its figure is now likely to be comparable with that of Fine Gael.

It will at least equal its 2009 performance and may return upwards of 250 seats, making it the biggest party in the country at local level.

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