Exit polls carried out during Ireland's General Election on 25 February 2011, pointed to Enda Kenny, leader of the Fine Gael Party, becoming the new Irish Prime Minister (Taoiseach) and Fianna Fáil dropping to fourth place behind Labour and the combined members running as Independents.
The RTÉ exit poll indicated that Fine Gael took 36.1 per cent of the vote; followed by Labour with 20.5 per cent; Independents and other smaller parties 15.5 per cent; Fianna Fáil 15.1 per cent; Sinn Féin's support at 10.1 per cent; and the Green Party on 2.7 per cent.
Ireland has an alternative, preferential voting system with 43 multi-member constituencies. Each constituency elects between three and five members depending on population. A really good example in this election is the Dún Laoghaire seat.
In the 2007 General Election, the Dún Laoghaire constituency elected five members. Due to a small drop in population of this relatively affluent suburb of Dublin, it was decided to transfer 12,000 of the electorate into the constituency of Dublin South and reduce to four the number of MPs the seat elects. Not making matters any better for the governing party, was the news in 2010 that Pfizer, the world's largest pharmaceutical company, is to close its Dún Laoghaire plant.
All five MPs who won a constituency seat in the 2007 General Election stood again this year for the four available seats:
Barry Andrews of Fianna Fáil, Minister for Children & Youth Affairs since 2008 and Party spokesperson on Health & Children.
Sean Barrett of Fine Gael, a Government Minister in a previous administration and on the Opposition front bench.
Ciarán Cuffe, one of a handful of Green Party MPs and Minister of State from March 2010 to January 2011.
Eamon Gilmore, Leader of the Labour Party
Mary Hanafin, Fianna Fáil, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport. Ms Hanafin came fourth in the recent contest to elect a new Fianna Fáil Party Leader on the resignation of Brian Cowen and was appointed Deputy Party Leader by the winner, Micheál Martin.
Narrowly missing out in winning a seat at the General Election in 2007 and standing again as a People Before Profits candidate was Richard Boyd Barrett. Mr Boyd Barrett is a Dún Laoghaire Councillor and a member of the United Left Alliance.
There were eight other candidates standing.
Dún Laoghaire has an electorate numbering 80,115, the number of valid votes counted was 56,676 and the Quota was set at 11,336. (Turnout was 71.3 per cent with a few hundred spoiled papers).
On the First Count, Eamon Gilmore (Labour) got 20.2 per cent of the First Preference votes. Winning 11,468 votes, he exceeded the Quota and was therefore automatically elected as one of the constituency's four MPs. No other candidate's votes reached the Quota and so all proceeded to the Second Count with the exception of Mike Deegan who got the lowest number of First Preference votes and was therefore eliminated. Mr Deegan's Second Preference votes were then awarded to the remaining field and the Second Count proceeded.
The Election in Dún Laoghaire more or less reflected the national opprobrium felt for Fianna Fáil, although nationally they did even worse, but in other respects, indicated a strong showing for the Labour Party Leader as well as a very good "Other" local candidate in Councillor Richard Boyd Barrett. The percentage of First Preference votes were as follows:
Fine Gael 34.6% (19,591) + 11.0 per cent swing change from 2007 General Election
Labour 30.4% (17,217) + 14.4 " " "
Fianna Fáil 15.2% (8,632) - 19.6 " " "
Independents 4.3% (2,440) - 4.6 " " "
Green Party 3.8% (2,156) - 3.9 " " "
Others 11.7% (6,640)
Whilst the National First Preference Vote looks like this:
Fine Gael 36.1%
Fianna Fáil 17.4%
Sinn Féin 9.9%
Green Party 1.8%
Returning to Dún Laoghaire, the four most successful candidates after the First Preference Count did in fact go on to be declared the four MPS for the constituency. Apart from Mr Gilmore who made the Quota, the other MPs are Sean Barrett (FG) 18.5 per cent of First Pref on Count 8; Mary Mitchell O'Connor (FG) 16.0 per cent of First Pref on Count 10; and Richard Boyd Barrett (People Before Profits) 10.9 per cent First Pref on Count 11, though with a final tally of 10,794 votes, he failed to reach the Quota.
The best Fianna Fáil candidate was Mary Hanafin who got 9.0 per cent of First Preference votes (5,217) and was eliminated on Count 11 when her total had reached 9,420.
A recount during the Second Count was required after 9pm on Saturday 26 February 2011 and this was postponed until Sunday morning. The Final constituency declaration was made at 15.04 on Sunday 27 February, 2011
As I finish this article, there's but a dozen seats to be filled. Many world leaders have called to congratulate Enda Kenny, Fine Gael Party Leader, on his stunning victory in this 2011 General Election. Mr Kenny will now most likely form a coalition with Mr Gilmore's Labour Party.
There are no Greens in the Dáil and approaching Sunday's close Fianna Fáil have only 18 seats, with a few recounts still ongoing. Mr Martin, Fianna Fáil Leader, says he will not change the Party's name and that from here, the only way is up.
Winners or losers, in Ireland tonight, there's no euphoria.