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Dublin: 12 °C Thursday 23 May, 2019
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It's not always winning a seat - there are plenty of small victories in an election

Why run if you can’t win?

Image: RollingNews.ie

WHILE TAKING A seat in the Dáil is the obvious ultimate goal in any election, there are plenty of unsuccessful candidates feeling pretty pleased this morning.

The motivation for running varies from candidate to candidate, but those who don’t take a seat can get some satisfaction.

Getting your deposit back

Candidates who don’t have the backing of a political party or 30 electors have to pay a €500 deposit.

This deposit is lost if they fail to get less than quarter of a quota (5% in a four-seater) before they are eliminated.

Getting your expenses

Candidates who get to that one-quarter mark can claim €8,700 of their election expenses back.

“That’s a big thing,” says Green Party chairperson and Dublin West candidate Roderic O’Gorman.

“You have to decide halfway through an election campaign, should I throw more money at the campaign and whether that will be worth it.”

As the vast majority of small party and independent candidates fund their campaigns themselves, that can be massive.

O’Gorman made his expenses back, as did his constituency colleague David McGuinness (Ind), who told reporters on Saturday:

“We did this all ourselves. We maxed out credit cards.”

Getting 2% of the national vote

Getting to 2% in the national first preference vote entitles a political party to state funding, which O’Gorman says is massive.

“2% will allow us hire staff and rent an office, it will enable us to boost promotion.

It’ll be around €200,000 a year, which will allow us do a lot.

“We had always been very conservative with the money we did have and that’s what got us through the last five years.”

Raising your profile

One first-time candidate, who polled in the triple digits, was heard to tell people in a Dublin count centre over the weekend that had they had “another month”, they would be a TD now.

That isn’t the reality. Making the breakthrough takes time and perseverance. O’Gorman took seven elections, two locals, two generals and two by-elections, to win a council seat.

But he says that it’s crucial to keep selling yourself to the public.

You’re getting the votes, you’re raising the profile of the party. You’re constantly selling the idea that you are a national party.

Other than that, familiarity breeds acceptance.

“I get people say “ah sure I remember you from the last one, I’ll give you a vote”.”

Read: Sinn Féin will try to go into government – but is on high alert for another election

Read: Another wait for Zappone: Full recount ordered in Dublin South West

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