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Dublin: 12 °C Friday 15 February, 2019
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Just how toxic is the Labour party?*

*A thoroughly non-scientific analysis.

Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

LAST WEEKEND’S LOCAL and European elections pre-empted the resignation of Labour leader and Tainiste Eamon Gilmore.

The party was decimated at the polls, and will return to local government with just 51 councillors.

Part of the reason the party were punished so badly was their association with austerity policies that Labour would traditionally distance themselves from. As is often the case in coalition governments, the junior partner has borne the brunt of voter anger.

In many instances, those austerity problems and the ruination they visited on Labour in the polls are same reasons 29 councillors left the party since it went into Government.

But how did they get on in the elections? And did they do any better than the Labour cohort?

The ex-red brigade

Of the 29 who resigned, 18 ran again.

Nine failed to be elected, meaning half of the ex-Labour candidates were re-elected.

The nine successful former Labour heads were: Mae Sexton (Longford), David Hynes (Wexford), Tom Fortune (Wicklow), Shaun Cuniffe (Galway), Cian O’Callaghan (Fingal), Thomas Redmond (Kildare), Frank McBrearty Jr (Donegal), Paddy Bourke (Dublin City) and Dermot Looney (South Dublin).

Two of the unelected candidates had defected to other parties – Jenny McHugh to Fianna Fáil in Navan, county Meath and Damien Molyneaux to Sinn Féin in Newbridge, county Kildare.

Of the 11 who decided not to run: Tommy Stokes from Longford pulled out of the race because of financial commitments and Aidan Pendlebury ran for Mayor in Clonakilty but was unsuccessful.

Labour’s innings

Out of 186 candidates running for Labour in the local elections, only 51 were returned around the country.

This means that only 27 per cent of Labour candidates were elected.

So what?

Long story short, if you left the Labour party and ran as an independent, you were more likely to be elected again.

Obviously in an electoral system as complicated as Ireland’s, that isn’t the only determinant, but it is one that may worry the next leader of the party.

There are too many factors at play in any one contest to be sure, but would as many of the councillors who quit the Labour party have been elected if they had stuck it out? On this (admittedly rather shallow) analysis, probably not.

Additional reporting by Sinéad O’Carroll 

Who is your new local councillor? Here’s a list of everyone elected so far>

The 29 councillors who have left the Labour Party over its role in government>

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About the author:

Jack Horgan-Jones

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