How the Green Party leadership contest works

Expect a two or three-week campaign involving hustings in different locations and votes from across the island

Now outgoing Green Party leader Eamon Ryan (centre) at the party's convention in Dublin in April. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

The Green Party’s method of choosing a leader is left entirely to the membership, unlike that of Fine Gael, which has “colleges” with the power significantly skewed towards the parliamentary party.

The party is said to have more than 4,000 members in the Republic and the North. It is a one-island party so all its Northern Irish members are entitled to vote.

Under the party’s constitution a leadership contest must take place within six months of a general election, albeit only if the leader is challenged.

That happened in 2020 when deputy leader Catherine Martin challenged the leadership of Eamon Ryan despite the party having its most successful general election in its history.

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A substantial majority of the parliamentary party backed Ryan but that made little difference in the end.

In an astonishing contest, Martin came within 49 votes of replacing Ryan. He secured 994 to to her 946. It was a little too close for comfort for him.

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At the time, party activists said she attracted significant support from Northern Greens, from younger members of the party, from those who had campaigned against going into Coalition, and from the radical social justice wing of the party (many of who subsequently left the party).

The national executive was meeting on Wednesday night to decide on the format of the contest. It is likely to be a two-week or three-week campaign and will involve hustings in different locations.

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The party leader is elected by a what’s called a Modified Borda count. That only applies where there are three candidates or more. The voters write down their first, second and third preferences on a voting paper. The totals of all the preferences are counted up and the person with the lowest score wins the contest.

However, if there are only two candidates, a simple majority vote will apply.

As of Wednesday evening, Minister for Integration Roderic O’Gorman and Senator Pippa Hackett are the only party members to have announced their candidacy.

Harry McGee

Harry McGee

Harry McGee is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times