Byelection results

 

Sir, – Harry McGee says that “there have been 34 byelections since 1982 and only three of them have been won by a government party” (July 3rd).

In fact, four of those 34 byelections were won by government parties, namely: Noel Treacy for Fianna Fáil (Galway East, 1982), Patrick Nulty for the Labour Party (Dublin West, 2011), Helen McEntee for Fine Gael (Meath East, 2012), and Gabrielle McFadden for Fine Gael (Longford Westmeath, 2014).

In previous decades, when we had a 2½ party system, each government faced a relatively monolithic opposition, invariably dominated by Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael, which had the support of at least a third of voters in most constituencies. This made it easier for an opposition candidate to secure victory by capitalising on low turnout and the desire among voters to give the government a gentle kick.

Since 2010, however, the fracturing of politics into a disparate number of opposition parties of varying levels of support has made it more difficult for opposition candidates to build a sufficient number of votes during a count. This has led to over a quarter of byelections in the last decade being won by the government of the day.

Due to the fractured opposition field, I would expect that Dublin Bay South will be added to this list as the fifth win for a Government candidate later this week. – Yours, etc,

BARRY WALSH,

Clontarf,

Dublin 3.