Abstract: Our study explores the declining vote of Fianna Fáil, Ireland’s dominant party using a unique fusion of data from the 1989-1999 European Election Studies and the 2002-2016 Irish National Election Studies. We show the weakening of Fianna Fáil’s dominant position is due to electoral change: shifting voter identities and the growing importance of economic evaluations in deciding the vote, which became prominent in the 2000s. Today, there are fewer partisans in general and this has impacted the party, especially since the Global Financial Crises (GFC), when the proportion of Fianna Fáil identifiers dropped substantially. Meanwhile, it relies on the votes of the older generation, a declining slice of the electorate. Further, more highly educated voters have become less likely to vote for the party in the 2000s, meaning Fianna Fáil is drawing significantly less support from a growing segment of the electorate. Finally, the Fianna Fáil vote in the 2000s has been shaped by voters’ economic perceptions, whereas these mattered little before this. Although this benefitted it in 2002 and 2007, it cost the party significant support in 2011. Our findings have implications for why dominant parties are declining and for our understanding of the Irish party system.
Link for the paper here.
This paper was also published as a book chapter in “One Party Dominance: Fianna Fáil and Irish Politics 1926 – 2016”, edited by Sean McGraw and Eoin O’Malley, Routledge press. Review of this book chapter and the book in Irish Independent.
Link for the book here.