Disappointment outweighs success for Fine Gael with big losses in local elections

Party’s share of votes has dropped by more than 12% even as new names elected

  Fine Gael’s Ken Egan and Emer Higgins –  seen with  Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald – were elected on the last count at the local elections in City West. Photograph: Dave Meehan

Fine Gael’s Ken Egan and Emer Higgins – seen with Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald – were elected on the last count at the local elections in City West. Photograph: Dave Meehan

 

Fine Gael has had a very poor election. Its vote share has dropped by more than 12 percentage points since the general election and, despite the overall increase in the number of council seats, the party is still going to lose more than 100 from its total of 335.

The larger party in the Coalition seemed to have inured itself from an electoral backlash three years into government, with Labour taking most of the brunt.

But in recent months, its standing has been undermined by a series of crises and scandals on the Fine Gael side, coupled with falling opinion poll showings.

The fall in support has nevertheless taken many by surprise, with a sense that there may have been complacency within the party.

It had a bad day in Dublin City Council, but held its own in the other Dublin local authorities.

Losses to FF Outside the capital, though, the party sustained losses, mainly to Fianna Fáil. As voting continues in the European election counts, the party’s prediction that it would win four seats looks anything but assured.

Brian Hayes was expected to top the poll in Dublin but he will now be lucky to come in a distant second to Sinn Féin’s Lynn Boylan.

The party’s hopes of winning two out of the four in the South may be realised – though by the skin of its teeth, if at all.

Mixed messages The two byelections had mixed messages. Gabrielle McFadden’s victory was solid, yet the hand-picked candidate for Dublin West, Eamonn Coghlan, had a so-so outing.

Fine Gael’s drop in support is larger than Labour’s in real terms, but proportionately it is still manageable.

There will be no threat to Enda Kenny’s leadership this side of a general election, but the result will certainly give the party a shock and jolt it into action. Mr Kenny will immediately have to make a move that is counterintuitive for him and effect a relatively major reshuffle of Ministers.

Mr Kenny was expected to be a Bertie Ahern-like minimalist when it came to the game of chess for portfolios, but circumstances may have forced his hand.

Drag on party Phil Hogan is still likely to become commissioner but some of his closest allies may lose out because their performance has acted as a drag on the party.

They may include Minister for Health James Reilly, who is also deputy leader.

Expect also pressure from within the parliamentary party for Mr Kenny to make amends with the Fine Gael rebels in the Reform Alliance.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.