Surge in number of Independent candidates

Thursday 10 February 2011 13.27
General Election - Nominations closed
General Election - Nominations closed

A total of 564 candidates will be contesting the General Election - nearly a hundred more than in the last general election in 2007.

The number of those running as independents or for smaller parties is 233 - this compares to 108 in 2007.

Fianna Fáil has 75 candidates, down from a total of 106 in 2007. Fine Gael has 104 candidates, up from 91 in 2007.

The Labour Party is fielding 68 candidates, up from 50 in 2007.

The Green Party is fielding 43 candidates. Sinn Féin is running 41 candidates, the same number of candidates as 2007.

There is a very high number of other parties and independent candidates this year.

New Vision, a new political group of independents, is fielding 19 candidates.

Nominations may have closed but candidates can withdraw their names up to midday tomorrow.

The total number of people on the Electoral Register 2011/2012 is 3,161,854.

This compares to 3,066,517 on the register in 2007 - a rise of almost 100,000 (95,337) voters since the last election.

These recent figures do not include additions to the Supplementary Register.

Historic low number of FF candidates

Since its foundation in 1926, Fianna Fáil has always fielded enough candidates to give a majority in the Dáil if they were all elected.

The last time Fine Gael had more General Election candidates than Fianna Fáil was in 1969, when they had 125 compared to 122.

Before that, you have to go back to 1927 to find an election where Cumann na nGaedheal (forerunner of Fianna Fáil) had more candidates - 97 to 87 in June 1927, and 89 to 88 in September 1927.

It is also the highest recorded level of Independent and minor party candidates - the next highest was in 1992, when there were 186 recorded under ‘Other’ in the official results, made up of 103 Independents, 5 Christian Centrist, 19 Green, 41 Sinn Féin, and 18 Worker’s Party.

Focus turns to jobs

After last night's televised debate between Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, the parties today focused on a range of issues including tourism, jobs, and literacy.

As Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny spent the evening in Carrick-on-Shannon at what was billed as a 'town hall meeting', Mr Gilmore and Mr Martin were going head-to-head on TV3 in the first televised leaders' debate of the campaign.

They disagreed on a range of issues including tax, the bank guarantee, renegotiation of the IMF/EU deal, and political reform.

Attacking the Labour Party's plan aimed at getting the public finances back in order, Mr Martin said it represented a policy of higher taxes and increased borrowing.

In response, Mr Gilmore said Fianna Fáil's plan for recovery would cripple the economy.

Both participants later declared themselves satisfied with their individual performances and with the one-to-one format of the programme.

Mr Martin said Mr Kenny should engage in future debates.

Mr Kenny had travelled to Carrick-on Shannon in Co Leitrim for a public meeting that was attended by around 300 people.

On his arrival, he told reporters that while he believed televised debates were important - they were not the single issue.

He said he was looking forward to participating in three televised debates during the rest of the election campaign.