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Leader effects in the 2016 election

This chapter addresses the importance of leadership effects in 2016. It assesses the impact of the leaders of the four main parties (Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Labour and Sinn Féin) on influencing the vote for their parties. Overall, the chapter finds some evidence that party leadership mattered in this election, but not a lot. The Fianna Fáil leader, Micheál Martin, was the most popular of the leaders, yet this did not translate into significant additional votes for his party. By contrast, the leaders of Fine Gael (Enda Kenny) and Sinn Féin (Gerry Adams), though less popular, were better at influencing the turnout of their base of supporters.

in The post-crisis Irish voter
Voting behaviour in the Irish 2016 general election

This is the definitive study of the Irish general election of 2016 – the most dramatic election in a generation, which, among other things, resulted in the worst electoral outcome for Ireland’s established parties, the most fractionalized party system in the history of the state and the emergence of new parties and groups, some of these of a ‘populist’ hue. This was one of the most volatile elections in Ireland (and among one of the most volatile elections in Europe), with among the lowest of election turnouts in the state’s history. These outcomes follow a pattern seen across a number of Western Europe’s established democracies in which the ‘deep crisis’ of the Great Recession has wreaked havoc on party systems.

The objective of this book is to assess this most extraordinary of Irish elections, both in an Irish and a wider cross-national context. With contributions from leading scholars on Irish elections and parties, and using a unique dataset – the Irish National Election Study (INES) 2016 – this volume explores voting patterns during Ireland’s first post-crisis election and considers the implications for the electoral landscape and politics in Ireland.

This book will be of interest to scholars of parties and elections. It should provide important supplementary reading to any university course on Irish politics. It should also be of interest to general readers interested in contemporary Irish affairs.

This chapter examines the social and ideological bases of voting behaviour in 2016. Referring to the classic debates in the comparative literature on political cleavages and upon earlier empirical investigations of the Irish case, the core question the chapter seeks to answer is whether there may be a strong link between voters’ socio-demographic traits, their broad policy beliefs and their party choice in this election. Building on a similar study of the 2011 election, which found evidence of the emergence of class-based politics, the analysis on this occasion reveals some interesting trends, particularly relating to Sinn Féin. Its steady rise in electoral support over time has seen it emerge as a major player in Irish party politics, with important implications for how we might view the ideological basis of voting behaviour in Ireland. The analysis in this chapter finds that Sinn Féin’s strong socio-demographic profile (working class, left–wing and in favour of Irish unity) sets it apart from the other major parties, differentiating it in terms that would be familiar in a political cleavage-based analysis.

in The post-crisis Irish voter

This chapter assesses how the record-breaking levels of electoral flux in 2016 may have impacted on attitudes towards representative politics in Ireland. First, it examines voter attitudes to the role of TDs (MPs) in 2016. The Irish tradition of high degrees of localism in representative politics is based on the strong attachment of Irish voters to a constituency orientation from their politicians. The analysis shows that this remains as strong as ever. There are, however, some changes in how voters make contact with their elected representatives – the second theme dealt with in this chapter. The intensity (or degree) of contact is resilient, but its form is shifting to more impersonal or virtual means of contact (especially among younger voters): the days of the ‘weekly clinic’ – that classic mainstay of representative politics in Ireland – may be numbered. Finally, the chapter examines what Irish voters think of their politicians overall – this latter theme referencing ongoing international debates about the emergence of populist attitudes. The evidence from the Irish case is quite a positive one, with many voters indicating a favourable disposition towards their politicians – though this is not universal.

in The post-crisis Irish voter

This chapter seeks to explain a significant puzzle of the 2016 election. There is now a very extensive literature linking economic performance with the electoral performance of government parties, with the relationship being a positive one. The 2016 election was an unusual illustration of a government being punished despite being able to point to a record of very significant economic growth and rapidly falling unemployment as Ireland’s recovery from the economic crash and bailout made it such a good example of the success of ‘austerity’ policies. Drawing on many studies that argue for certain contingencies in the relationship, this chapter explores a number of ways in which the good economy–government-returned-to-office relationship went wrong. A key finding, contrary to general tendencies in the literature on economic voting, is that ‘pocketbook’ considerations were very significant in determining how voters felt about the government parties. The chapter offers some reasons why the Irish case is unusual and also questions the theoretical bases on which ‘pocketbook’ voting is downplayed in the economic voting literature.

in The post-crisis Irish voter
Open Access (free)
Partial offsets and unfinished business

This chapter discusses the revision process of the Maastricht Treaty. It assesses the politics of the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) 1996/97 and looks at the extent to which the outcome of the revision process – namely the Treaty of Amsterdam – represents a development of the integration process, or if it is merely a combination of state competences. The chapter studies the Final Report of the Reflection Group, which was structured around three dimensions (efficiency, democracy and flexibility). It also discusses the issues of subsidiarity and transparency, the changes made to simplify European Union decisionmaking, the revisions made to the voting mechanisms in the Council and the expansion of Qualified Majority Voting. The chapter furthermore studies the classification of Community Acts, which came from the European Parliament's Institutional Affairs Committee and the Italian government during the IGCs.

in Theory and reform in the European Union
Abstract only
Contestation, care and the ‘temper of the country’

The marginalisation of care in public discourse serves as a pointed reminder of the need for more inclusive contestation. Contestation needs work. One way to envisage that work is in the form of a good conversation. Conversation skills are by no means all that is required to do the job, of course. Realists know that engaging as if the temper of the country were hospitable to a rounded appreciation of the conditions of good citizenship does not itself bring those conditions about. Good negotiation of the public interest seems by its nature to involve thinking and acting as if the world might be different, and better. So the politicisation of care is a vital element of any mapping of the public interest. A further reason for care's neglect lies in the way choice has been valorised, sometimes in political theory but more emphatically still in the rhetoric of marketisation.

in Making social democrats

The recognition by the British political class of the liberal commonalities embedded in British social democracy, normally dormant, flared up briefly in 1996. Among the British intelligentsia, once the prolific supplier of radical liberal ideas, the most prominent liberal was Isaiah Berlin, who displayed a remarkable lack of interest in the twentieth-century history of British liberalism. Inter-war centrist liberalism reverted to a more cautious, property-promoting and free-trade oriented ideological position, while honouring elements of a social liberalism in a much-muted voice. Post-1945 liberalism gradually reconfigured the balance of its elements to espouse a more conventionally 'political' creed, highlighting constitutional reform and local government-cum-devolution, while its social justice policy went down diverging routes. The conscious and public ideological blending of liberalism and social democracy in the second half of the twentieth century proceeded unevenly.

in Making social democrats

The development and academic study of the 'Third Way' since the mid-1990s represents the most consistent and durable attempt to develop those overt beliefs on behalf of the 'Centre-Left' in general and New Labour in particular. Five names crop up when communitarian philosophy is cited by Third Way commentators: Alasdair MacIntyre; Michael Sandel; Charles Taylor; Michael Walzer and John Macmurray. These philosophers are the subject of this chapter. The obvious connection between Tony Blair and Macmurray is the importance for both of them of the idea of community. For Macmurray, individualism is an expression of fear, while society is an expression of mutual need, and community an expression of love. Sandel's approach has been seen as epitomising a communitarianism in which justice and community are in conflict. MacIntyre's criticism of liberalism is far broader than Sandel's.

in The Third Way and beyond
Open Access (free)
Individuals acting together

This chapter articulates the idea of one kind of community, pertinent to social and political questions, which is present in many areas of actual human life. It explores a specific conception of community as a collective agency. The chapter suggests that the membership of a collective agency raises important questions about loyalty, allegiance and dissociation. Where an individual is participating in collective action with others, a space must always be left for critical reflection, options of identification with or dissociation from the CA and even actual detachment from a CA. The chapter also suggests that the existence of collective agencies casts doubt on the adequacy of the doctrine of the distinctness of persons. According to the doctrine, it is particularly important to bundle together the desires of a single individual. By contrast, no special importance attaches to a bundle which represents the desires of different individuals for the same end.

in Political concepts