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Gay Mitchell, an MEP who unsuccessfully ran for the presidency two years ago. Photocall Ireland
Election 2014

Large constituencies mean European elections 'will become more presidential'

Phil Hogan believes candidates will need at least €100,000 if they want to be elected to the European Parliament next year.

THOSE HOPEFUL OF contesting next year’s European elections will face a difficult task if they’re not well-known and don’t have significant financial backing of at least €100,000, Environment Minister Phil Hogan said this week.

He said that the elections are likely to become more presidential after Ireland’s European constituency map was redrawn in the wake of its number of MEPs being reduced from 12 to 11 with three constituencies instead of four.

The new map sees Dublin remain a three-seater with the Ireland East constituency abolished and the midlands, west, and north-west merged into one large four-seat constituency with the south and south-east also one large four-seater.

“They’ll have to be strong in their presentation and credentials to the electorate if they want to convince them,” Hogan told a briefing organised by the Association of European Journalists at the European Parliament Offices in Dublin this week.

“Particularly for independents it’s going to be an expensive campaign. I don’t think you can run an effective European election campaign for less than €100,000 per candidate in order to get the necessary penetration.”

Having left the Labour Party, Ireland East MEP Nessa Childers said recently she will need between €80,000 and €100,000 to finance her European re-election campaign next year.

Former Labour chairman Colm Keaveney, a TD for Galway East, is also likely to contest elections for the European Parliament and is planning a grassroots fundraising campaign to raise the necessary capital.

Keenly aware of the need for high profile candidates, political parties are biding their time before choosing candidates for next year where there are gaps.

For example, Fine Gael need a candidate to replace Gay Mitchell in Dublin with junior minister Brian Hayes among those under consideration. Hogan said that Fine Gael would be trying to secure five seats – one in Dublin and two each in the other constituencies.

It’s also emerged that at least three of the four main political parties have informally approached the campaigner David Hall, a prominent voice on the mortgage arrears crisis, and the kind of profile that would be a useful asset.

The Minister added: “If you’re not known at all I think you have a poor chance of being elected in these vast constituencies now.

“Irish elections are not used to these vast constituencies except in a presidential election, so they’ll become more presidential. ”

More: Parties begin to assess candidates after redrawing of European constituencies

Read: Dublin a three-seater in Ireland’s new-look European constituency map

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