Happy St. Patrick's Day!

In honor of St. Patrick's Day, I thought we'd visit Ireland and the way they run their popular elections.

The primary difference in voting (we won't get that deeply into governmental design) is that Irish elections are conducted with a ranking system as opposed to our 'vote for one' system.  An Irish ballot lists candidates and the voter ranks them in order of preference, using the number 1 for favorite, on down to the number of candidates in the race.



A little background on the Irish Government:

In 1937, the Republic of Ireland adopted a Constitution which set up the government in the following manner:

  • Taoisheach (Prime Minister, pronounced tea-shocks or tea-shaw, nominated by Dail and appointed by President)
  • President 
  • Cabinet (7 - 15 members, all members of Oiereachtas, no more than 2 from Seanad Eireann, the rest from Dail Eireann)
  • Oiereachtas (Parliament, pronounced air-ish-tas)
  • Seanad Eireann (Upper house, appointed, pronounced shanad ee-ar-an)
  • Dail Eireann (Lower house, popularly elected, pronounced dal ee-ar-an)

The Irish president is not the Chief Executive of the Irish government; executive power is explicitly reserved for the Prime Minister, or Taoiseach, in the Constitution of Ireland.

The Irish Cabinet has between 7 and 15 members, with each member being a member of the parliament of Ireland called the Oiereachtas.

The Oiereachtas has two houses, much like our Congress. However, the elections of the two houses differ. Dail Eireann the lower house, consists of 166 members directly elected by the people of Ireland. Seanad Eireann, the upper house, hosts 60 members which are appointed by a range of entities from councillors and parliamentarians to university constituencies.

It is the popularly elected lower house (Dail) that holds the most power in government. The upper house (Seanad) does not have the power to veto a bill, simply to delay it.

If a bill passes both houses, the President is conventionally expected to sign it into law.

How Irish Elections work:

Ireland is a member of the European Union (EU) and all EU citizens living in Ireland are eligible to vote in EU elections as well as local elections.

British Citizens are allowed to vote in Local, Dail, and European races, while Irish citizens may vote in those as well as Presidential races and Referendums.

Non-EU citizens are only allowed to vote in local elections.

Offices are voted on using the Alternative Vote system, in which voters rank the candidates on the ballot rather than vote for one candidate.

Terms of Office:

The President of Ireland is elected once every 7 years by the citizens of Ireland.

The Dail is elected for a term of up to 5 years, although it can be dissolved by the President on advice of the Taoisheach.

Further Research:

Please visit the following sites for further information on Irish Elections:





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