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Back from the dead: How Sinn Féin surpluses helped bring left-wing candidates over the line

More than any other party, Solidarity-PBP benefitted hugely from Sinn Féin transfers.

Tweet by @Gino Kenny TD Source: Gino Kenny TD/Twitter

JUST AFTER MIDDAY yesterday, Gino Kenny admitted defeat.

The Solidarity-People Before Profit candidate tweeted: “Not looking good in getting re-elected. We done all we could over the past four weeks/years… For me activism doesn’t begin and end at Leinster House.”

Kenny had been aiming at retaining the seat he won in Dublin Mid West in the 2016 general election. 

After the first count in that constituency yesterday, he was in 5th place in the four-seater – almost 1,500 votes behind Fianna Fáil’s John Curran.

Fast forward 24 hours, and Kenny was winning a seat at Curran’s expense.

Crucial in clawing that deficit back were transfers from Sinn Féin.

general-election-ireland-2020 Gino Kenny, Richard Boyd Barrett, Bríd Smith and Paul Murphy will all be in the 33rd Dáil. Source: Brian Lawless/PA Images

The party had run two candidates in Dublin Mid West. While Eoin Ó Broin and Mark Ward won at a canter, they gave Kenny 247 votes and 309 votes respectively when their surpluses were transferred.

In contrast, Sinn Féin only transferred 76 votes to Fianna Fáil and even fewer to Fine Gael.

Back from the dead

Gino Kenny’s victory in Dublin Mid West is an example of how well Solidarity-People Before Profit, in particular, did in transfers from Sinn Féin in this election.

Sinn Féin topped the poll in so many areas – nine out of the top 10 first preference votes across the country were given to Sinn Féin candidates.

However, because the party ran so few second candidates in constituencies where they could have won a second seat, voters remained loyal to the left with their second preferences.

It meant that when a Sinn Féin candidate exceeded the quota by a large margin, their surplus went primarily to left-leaning candidates.

Solidarity-PBP’s Bríd Smith and Paul Murphy were among the beneficiaries.

In Smith’s case, she was in fourth place in Dublin South Central after the first count. On the second count, however, she received 4,794 votes from Aengus Ó Snodaigh’s surplus which allowed her to exceed the quota and get elected.

In Dublin South West, Murphy benefitted to the tune of 3,444 votes on his way to being re-elected.

0239 General Election 2020 Richard Boyd Barrett and Bríd Smith benefitted from Sinn Féin transfers. Source: Leah Farrell/Rollingnews.ie

Mick Barry had a fight on his hands to retain his seat in Cork North Central but looks in good shape after netting almost 1,500 transfers from Sinn Féin’s Thomas Gould.

Solidarity-PBP’s Conor Reddy was also in with a strong shout in Dublin North West after almost 2,500 transfers from Dessie Ellis before falling at the last count.

Even in the rare case where a Sinn Féin candidate was eliminated, Solidarity-PBP was the beneficiary.

When Shane O’Brien was eliminated in Dun Laoghaire, 5,245 of his votes transferred to Richard Boyd Barrett to bring him over the quota.

National trend

Away from Dublin, this trend was mirrored, with Solidarity-PBP getting 28% of all Sinn Féin surplus transfers.

This was far more than other parties, with independents getting 21%, Fianna Fáil 10.5%, Green Party 9% and Social Democrats 6%.

Given the left-leaning policies within Sinn Féin’s manifesto, they transferred readily to Solidarity-PBP.

In the days running up to the election, a graphic was being shared urging people to #transferleft in their preference.

Despite Solidarity-PBP’s first preference vote share dropping by 1.3% compared to 2016, the group looks to be in a decent position to retain their number of seats – the loss of Ruth Coppinger in Dublin West aside – in no small part due to Sinn Féin transfers.

With the Social Democrats having a very good election in terms of the seats they’ve targeted, these surplus transfers have proven crucial to the left as Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are now left scrapping for the final seats in multiple constituencies.

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About the author:

Sean Murray

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