Labour Party support: A Geographical Perspective

Labour support by constituency, 2007 General Election

Labour support by constituency, 2007 General Election

Labour support in Dublin constituencies, 2007 General Election

Labour support in Dublin constituencies, 2007 General Election

Recent polls from RedC and Irish Times/Isbos-MRBI have focused significant attention on the Labour Party and point to significant gains being made by that party, as tantamount to a “Gilmore Gale”. But the extent to which these significant shifts in support levels towards the party can be translated into seat gains sufficient to allow Labour challenge the traditional dominance of Fine Gael and Fianna Fail may be shaped by the party’s geography of support, which will be studied in this post.  

Labour Party support, since the foundation of the party in 1912, has traditionally been concentrated to south and east of line drawn between Dundalk and Limerick – this support base being associated with geographical distribution of farm labourer (large farms and arable farming) who proved (more so than the urban working class who tended to favour Fianna Fail) to be the party’s most relaible source of support in the early decades of its existence. The importance of familial dynasties in rural constituencies allowed for the continuance of this trend, e.g. the Corish family held a Labour seat in Wexford between 1921 and 1981, while the Spring family held a Labour seat in Kerry North between 1943 and 1992. Labour’s strongest regions, historically, have been Munster and provincial Leinster – these regions have proven to offer more reliable sources of Labour Party than Dublin, where the party’s support levels have fluctuated over the years. Since the amalgamation of Labour with Democratic Left in 2000, Dublin has emerged as the party’s constitently strongest region. In the 2007 General Election (when the national level of Labour support stood at 10.1%) Labour won 14.5% of the first preference votes cast in Dublin, as against 12.1% in the rest of Leinster, 9.9% in Munster and just 3.3% in Connacht-Ulster (where Michael D. Higgins Galway West vote accounted for almost half of the total Labour vote within this region).

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One Response to “Labour Party support: A Geographical Perspective”

  1. Fine Gael rurality key to Enda’s survival? « politicalreform.ie Says:

    […] regions where Labour is weak (as discussed in a previous post as well as a shorter post from the Kavanagh blog) and vice versa. Thus Fianna Fail is likely to face a serious challenge from Fine Gael, and not […]

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