Number of Independents doubles in 15 years as public tire of traditional parties

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European-Election News

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Lack of alternative parties means Independent candidates attracting disaffected voters

Maura Healy-Rae and her brother Johnny getting elected to the Killarney and Kenmare Municipal Districts at the count centre in Killarney, Co Kerry, on Sunday. Photograph: Don MacMonagle

Now there are about 195 Independents . They took almost 27 per cent of first preferences in last Friday’s election. Weeks and Quinlivan pointed out that local elections have tended to be more candidate-focused so party brand is less important, even for party candidates. The small size of local electoral areas, as well as the fact they are multiseat, allows candidates to be well recognised in their communities.

David Farrell, professor of politics at UCD, points to other factors. It is easier to get a nomination as a candidate in Ireland than elsewhere. The bar for entry is low. In addition, he says, the electoral system in Ireland – single transferable vote and proportional representation with multiseat constituencies – is more geared towards candidate-centred politics.

Farrell says that politics in Ireland began to fragment from the 1980s. That created a peculiarly Irish problem. The decline of the established parties over successive elections has resulted in votes shifting around.

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