February 1982 Irish general election
165 of 166 seats in Dáil Éireann
84 seats needed for a majority
Percentage of seats gained by each of the three major parties, and number of seats gained by smaller parties and independents.
The February 1982 Irish general election was held on Thursday, 18 February, three weeks after the dissolution of the Dáil on 27 January. The newly elected 166 members of the 23rd Dáil assembled at Leinster House on 9 March when a new Taoiseach and government were appointed.
The first general election of 1982 was caused by the sudden collapse of the Fine Gael–Labour Party coalition government when the budget was defeated. The Minister for Finance, John Bruton, attempted to put VAT on children's shoes. This measure was rejected by Jim Kemmy, a left-wing independent Teachta Dála, and Joe Sherlock of Sinn Féin the Workers' Party. The Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald immediately sought a dissolution of the Dáil. However, while he was with President Patrick Hillery at Áras an Uachtaráin, a number of Fianna Fáil members attempted to telephone the President, urging him not to grant a dissolution. If the President refused a dissolution, FitzGerald would have to resign and Fianna Fáil would be invited to form a government. The attempt to contact the President was highly unconstitutional, as the President can only take advice from the Taoiseach. In the event, a dissolution was granted and the general election campaign began in earnest.
The campaign was largely fought on economic issues. Spending cuts were a reality for whatever party won, but the scale of the cuts were played down by all parties. Fine Gael proposed to continue the policies that it had been implementing while in office. The Fianna Fáil leader Charles Haughey dismissed the need for budget cuts when the campaign first began; however, the need for realism soon became apparent, and the party adopted similar policies that involved budget cuts.
|23rd Irish general election – 18 February 1982|
|Fianna Fáil||Charles Haughey||81||+3||48.8||786,951||47.3||+2.0|
|Fine Gael||Garret FitzGerald||63||–2||38.0||621,088||37.3||+0.8|
|Labour Party||Michael O'Leary||15||0||9.0||151,875||9.1||–0.8|
|Sinn Féin - The Workers' Party||Tomás Mac Giolla||3||+2||1.8||38,088||2.3||+0.6|
|Sinn Féin||Ruairí Ó Brádaigh||0||New||0||16,894||1.0||–|
|Irish Republican Socialist||0||New||0||2,716||0.2||–|
Independents include Independent Fianna Fáil (11,732 votes, 1 seat).
- Fianna Fáil minority government formed.
Fianna Fáil emerged as the largest party and looked most likely to form a government. However, internal divisions within the party threatened Charles Haughey's nomination for Taoiseach. In the end a leadership challenge did not take place, and Haughey was the party's nominee for Taoiseach. Haughey gained the support of the Independent Socialist TD Tony Gregory, the Independent Fianna Fáil TD Neil Blaney and the three Sinn Féin the Workers' Party deputies, and was appointed Taoiseach.
Dáil membership changes
The following changes took place as a result of the election:
- 7 outgoing TDs retired
- 1 vacant seat at election time
- 157 outgoing TDs stood for re-election (also John O'Connell, the outgoing Ceann Comhairle, who was automatically returned)
- 136 of those were re-elected
- 21 failed to be re-elected
- 29 successor TDs were elected
- 21 were elected for the first time
- 8 had previously been TDs
- There was 1 successor female TD, who replaced 4 outgoing; thus the total decreased by 3 to 8.
- There were changes in 26 of 41 constituencies
Where more than one change took place in a constituency the concept of successor is an approximation for presentation only.
- "23rd Dáil February 1982 General Election". ElectionsIreland.org. Retrieved 3 July 2009.
- "Dáil elections since 1918". ARK Northern Ireland. Retrieved 3 July 2009.
- Dieter Nohlen & Philip Stöver (2010) Elections in Europe: A data handbook, pp1009-1017 ISBN 978-3-8329-5609-7
- Doherty died in August 1981 but no by-election had been called by the time of the general election
- February 1982 election: Party leaders' debate RTÉ archives